Why has P&O sacked its staff?


Ferry operators P&O prmpted shockwaves across the travel industry today as it announced it had sacked 800 staffers. The sidelined staff made up the entirety of its workforce, meaning the firm has now suspended operations in their entirety from today, leaving would-be tourists without a means to reach their destinations. The firm has issued a statement, in which it explained the need to make “swift and significant changes” to its makeup.

Why has P&O sacked its staff?

P&O prompted immediate backlash when the news emerged this morning, with unions branding the mass action “scandalous betrayal”.

Ferry workers had been called to port awaiting a “major announcement”, and were laid off, with P&O now calling in cheaper agency staff to operate its fleet.

In its statement, the firm cited significant year-on-year losses and taking decisions to ensure its “survival”.

READ MORE: WATCH moment P&O Ferries boss informs staffs they are made redundant

They said this afternoon: “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.

“We have made a £100m loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World.

“This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.

“These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options.”

“As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.

“In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK.

“And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years.”

Reports from the French press suggest that replacement crews will come from an agency based in Colombia, and already standing by to take over from former staff at Hull and Dover. 

But staffers have staged a sit-in, refusing to leave their postings in protest. 

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said it had spotted security personnel equipped with handcuffs waiting to board and remove them. 

The union has spoked out against today’s action and advised workers on what to do next. 

Mick Lynch, the RMT general secretary, branded it “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.

He added that the RMT had instructed workers refusing to leave their posts to  “remain on board” in the interim. 

And he said they have set out demands to protect members across P&O’s UK operations, with transport secretary Grant Shapps asked to intervene.

Responding in Parliament to a question from Labour, Mr Shapps said he was “concerned” by the news.

He said: “We will be taking steps later today, including ensuring officials are having urgent discussion with P&O about the situation, particularly concerning their workers.”


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