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18 Mar 2022

Gwyn Topham, The Guardian

UK: P&O Ferries accused of 'scandalous betrayal' after dismissing 800 crew members via video message to be replaced with cheaper agency staff

"P&O Ferries sacks all 800 crew members across entire fleet", 17 March 2022

...P&O Ferries, has sacked 800 British crew across its entire fleet after stopping all its sailings on Thursday. Unions called on the government to halt what it called a “scandalous betrayal”, with P&O planning to use cheap agency staff to operate its ships.

The operator,...earlier told crew to return to port and await a “major announcement” in a sudden move likely to cause serious disruption to travel for passengers and freight.

Security staff were preparing to remove crew from ships in Dover and Larne, Belfast, after unions instructed crew not to leave vessels. Coaches carrying replacement agency staff were reported to be standing by at Dover and Hull.

The RMT said that guards with handcuffs were seeking to board ships to remove crew so they could be replaced with cheaper labour.

The union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said it was seeking urgent legal action over “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”. He added: “We have instructed our members to remain on board and are demanding our members across P&O’s UK operations are protected, and that the secretary of state intervenes to save UK seafarers from the dole queue.”

Staff were told by video message that P&O “vessels will be primarily crewed by a third party crew provider … Your final day of employment is today.”...

A spokesperson for P&O Ferries said it had to take a “very difficult but necessary decision” to “secure the future viability of our business, which employs an additional 2,200 people, and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK”.

They added: “However, 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.”