P&O Ferries have sacked all 800 crew on Thursday afternoon with “effective immediately” and all staff will be served with severance packages.
P&O Ferries said all services will be cancelled for the next few days as the business is “not viable” in its current state.
Ferry staff are protesting on board a P&O vessel in Hull and “new foreign” agency staff are waiting to board their ships.
This has sparked a furious row with the Nautilus and the RMT unions who are urging their members not to leave the company’s vessels.
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In a statement ahead of the announcement, Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT Union said, “We are deeply disturbed by growing speculation that the company are today planning to sack hundreds of UK seafarers and replace them with foreign labour.
“We have instructed our members to remain onboard 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.”
New foreign crew waiting to board the Pride of Hull on King George Dock. @RMTunion sitting in onboard the vessel. They will not be boarding her. We understands that both current officers and ratings are to be sacked. pic.twitter.com/JqJOWNxgDA
— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) March 17, 2022
In a statement, the ferry operator said, “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.”
Earlier, Labour MP Karl Turner posted a picture of cars waiting at King George Dock and said: “New foreign crew waiting to board the Pride of Hull on King George Dock. @RMTunion sitting in onboard the vessel.
“They will not be boarding her. We understand that both current officers and ratings are to be sacked.”
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said, “The news that P&O Ferries is sacking the crew across its entire UK fleet is a betrayal of British workers.
“It is nothing short of scandalous given that this Dubai owned company received millions of pounds of British taxpayer’s money during the pandemic.
“There was no consultation and no notice given by P&O. Be assured the full resources of Nautilus International stand ready to act in defence of our members.
“We believe it is in our members’ best interests to stay onboard until further notice.”
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “The DfT is working with the Kent Resilience Forum and all local partners to ensure the free flow of traffic in Kent.”