Workers prepare to protest against ‘shameful’ P&O Ferries

By Lisa James
Home » Workers prepare to protest against ‘shameful’ P&O Ferries

Demonstrations are to take place today at UK ports in protest at the sacking of 800 P&O Ferries staff, as unions warn plans to replace them with cheaper workers could compromise passenger safety.

P&O Ferries said there will be no services for a week to 10 days at least and the Government warned passengers face disruption, despite the fact the company has said it is working to move customers on to transport services provided by other operators.

The protests, at Dover, Liverpool and Hull, come as the ferry company is hit with widespread condemnation of the way it has treated its seafarers, who were told via pre-recorded video yesterday that they no longer had jobs with immediate effect.

Unions are warning P&O Ferries’ plan to replace the workers with cheaper staff risks safety as new crews will be unfamiliar with vessels and routes.

P&O Ferries has faced a public backlash with many saying they’ll never book with the company again and others calling for a boycott of the operator.

The situation has led to confusion, with some Travel Gossip Facebook members reporting customers have been in touch to ask whether P&O Cruises is affected. The cruise line – including its social media team and UK President Paul Ludlow – has put out statements to say it is a completely different company from P&O Ferries and is not affected.

Transport and Shipping Minister Robert Courts told the House of Commons yesterday he’d been informed P&O Ferries would suspend services for ‘approximately a week to 10 days while they locate new crew’, adding: “However, I must warn travellers that they should expect some disruption in the coming days.”

SNP Transport Spokesman Gavin Newlands described the situation as ‘shameful, insensitive and inhumane’ and Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said it was ‘a straightforward assault on British seafaring’.

MP Huw Merriman, Chairman of the Transport Select Committee, said P&O Ferries had made an ‘appalling error’ and had treated staff ‘with contempt’.

He later told Channel 4 News the company’s actions were: “Bad PR, bad commercially, bad legally.”

Meanwhile, easyJet has reached out to affected P&O Ferries staff to encourage them to apply for jobs as cabin crew.

Director of Cabin Services Tina Milton said: “Everyone at easyJet is saddened by the news about P&O Ferries and the anxiety that their people will be feeling.

“As part of our ongoing recruitment drive, we still have fantastic seasonal cabin crew opportunities across our UK network, along with a number of roles at London Luton Airport headquarters and our recruitment team will be reaching out to as many individuals as possible to encourage them to apply.

“We know that P&O Ferries’ people will be a valuable addition to our easyJet team and we would be delighted to welcome many of them onboard with us in the coming weeks.”

And Ashford-based private ambulance company BM Ambulance is offering 18 members of staff the ‘opportunity for a career change’.

More details here.

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