P&O Ferries: Dover to see ‘major job loss’ after ‘flagrant abuse of workers’

The ferry group has almost 4,000 employees and operates more than 30,000 sailings a year on major routes including between Britain, France and Ireland. It was bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World for £322 million in 2019. P&O said it had halted all sailings but was not going into administration and will make 800 employees redundant immediately. Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch erupted at the news as he described is a “flagrant abuse” of workers.

Speaking to ITV News, Mr Lynch said: “At Dover there are nearly 400 RMT members working on those vessels.

“There’s probably another 50 or 60 working around the country but this is a major job loss for Dover and the Kent area.

“It’s an absolute outrage that the way we have been through with P&O over the decades, how they stripped out jobs in the 80s and the way that they’re doing it again now under DP World is a flagrant abuse of workers.”

Transport minister Grant Shapps said in parliament his officials would urgently seek conversations with the firm, particularly over concerns about its workforce.

P&O has a fleet of more than 20 ships that sail across the English Channel, North Sea, and Irish Sea. Like all travel companies, it will have been hit by two years of COVID restrictions which disrupted tourist travel.

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The transport workers’ trade union RMT said it was disturbed at the reports and had advised its members to remain on board ships.

P&O tweeted to its customers that services would not be running “for the next few hours”.

“P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

“We have asked all ships to come alongside, in preparation for a company announcement. Until then, services from P&O will not be running and we are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”

RMT members are “sitting in onboard the vessel”, so the new crew “will not be boarding her”, he wrote.

He added: “We understand that both current officers and ratings are to be sacked.”

In its internal statement, P&O Ferries said: “All our vessels have been asked to discharge their passengers and cargo and stand by for further instructions.

“This means we’re expecting all our ports to experience serious disruption today.”

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