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P&O Ferry lays off 800 UK workers without any notice

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P&O Ferry lays off 800 UK workers without any notice

LONDON – A British ferry company on Thursday laid off 800 people with immediate effect, many of them on video, denouncing international travel disruptions and plans by government officials to cut service and replace staff with cheap labor .

On Friday, the company’s ferries were at a standstill without staff to man their ships. P&O Ferries, owned by DP World, a shipping company based in Dubai, said on its website that there would be significant disruption to its services over the next few days as it became a “more competitive and efficient operator”.

Workers, their families and community members took part in protests on Friday in the English port cities of Hull, Dover and Liverpool, and the Northern Irish port of Larne.

Mark Dickinson, general secretary of the maritime workers trade union Nautilus International, said when he was leaving a protest of about 400 people in Dover that he had never seen such a short moment in his 40 years in the industry.

“I think a lot of this recruitment and firing has happened recently, and this is the latest example,” he said. “There’s fatigue, and people are just fed up.” In Britain, an island nation, sailors are not considered essential workers, even if they worked during the pandemic to bring food, medicine and other goods to the country, he said.

He said members of the P&O crew received a notice on Thursday morning to stand up for an important announcement, and all ships were called to port. Several hours later, employees were told over video by a human resources officer that they were losing their jobs.

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Ferries between England and France and the Netherlands were canceled for the next few days, P&O said on twitter on Friday. Union officials said the service disruption was likely to delay the movement of food, medicine and other goods between the UK and the rest of Europe.

In an email to staff members on Thursday, P&O’s chief executive, Peter Heblethwaite, said the company was reducing its crew costs by 50 percent to set the business up for growth. He said P&O Ferries had entered into a new partnership with an international crew company, and that crew members from that company would staff the ships affected by the change.

In a statement Friday, P&O acknowledged that “for our employees, this redundancy came without warning or prior consultation, and we fully understand that this caused distress for them and their families.” Is.” The decision was “a last resort”, the company said, adding that the business would not survive without the radically changed crew arrangement.

The company said it had notified all affected crew members who were working individually on its ships on Thursday, and the video was used to inform 261 of the 800 employees who were laid off. was given.

Politicians expressed displeasure about the firing and pressured to withdraw government contracts with the firm. Robert Courts, the under-secretary of state in the Department of Transportation, told parliament on Thursday that the way P&O had treated sailors who had served the company for years was unacceptable.

“The report of workers being given zero notice and their ships being taken away with immediate effect, while being told cheaper alternatives will play their part, shows insensitively that P&O has approached the issue – a point Which I made clear to the management of P&O when I spoke to them earlier this afternoon,” he said.

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But opposition politicians said the words of the ruling Conservative Party officials were empty without action. Nicola Sturgeon, leader of Scotland tweeted that she had spoken directly to the chief executive of P&O Ferries and expressed her “absolute disgust at this appalling behavior of its employees.” She said the Scottish government would do everything it could to ensure her proper treatment.

“It’s a lot of modern management technology — just treating the work force like scum on the hope that you can get away with it,” he said. “And the same thing happened.”


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