P&O Ferries announces plans to resume sailings for first time since sacking nearly 800 staff

P&O Ferries has been prevented from running all but one of its vessels since it announced widespread redundancies on March 17

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P&O Ferries has announced it is preparing to restart sailings “from this weekend” on routes suspended since it sacked nearly 800 seafarers.

The firm revealed plans to resume operations for four of its ships.

It has been prevented from running all but one of its vessels since it announced widespread redundancies on March 17.

The company sparked outrage by replacing its crews with cheaper agency workers, without notice.

P&O Ferries
P&O Ferries

A spokesman for the firm said: “From this weekend, P&O Ferries are getting ready to resume services across a number of vital routes.

“P&O has been working closely with regulators to ensure our ships are safe to sail.

“P&O is looking forward to welcoming back vital services and we expect to have two of our vessels ready to sail on the Dover/Calais route by next week, subject to regulatory sign-off, namely both the Pride of Kent and Spirit of Britain between Dover/Calais.

“P&O are also expecting to be able to sail both the European Causeway, which runs between Larne and Cairnryan, and the Pride of Hull, which runs services between Hull and Rotterdam.”

He added: “We thank our customers for their patience during this time and we apologise to those customers whose journeys have been cancelled and disrupted.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said P&O Ferries will be forced to “fundamentally rethink their decision” to sack nearly 800 workers.

P&O ferries in the Port of Dover, Kent, as P&O Ferries has announced it is preparing to restart sailings "from this weekend" on routes suspended since it sacked nearly 800 seafarers
P&O ferries in the Port of Dover, Kent, as P&O Ferries has announced it is preparing to restart sailings "from this weekend" on routes suspended since it sacked nearly 800 seafarers
People take part in a demonstration at the Portsmouth International Port after P&O Ferries sacked 800 seafarers without notice on March 17, amid plans to bring in cheaper agency staff
People take part in a demonstration at the Portsmouth International Port after P&O Ferries sacked 800 seafarers without notice on March 17, amid plans to bring in cheaper agency staff

The Cabinet minister made the claim as he set out a series of measures in response to the redundancies.

These include plans to create “minimum wage corridors” on ferry routes between the UK and other countries.

He will also urge ports to refuse access to boats carrying seafarers paid below the minimum wage, and ask the Insolvency Service to consider disqualifying P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite from acting as a company director.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: “P&O Ferries’ failure to see reason, to recognise the public anger, and to do the right thing by their staff has left the Government with no choice.

“I am today announcing a package of nine measures that will force them to fundamentally rethink their decision.

“This will send a clear message to the maritime industry: we will not allow this to happen again.

“Where new laws are needed, we will create them. Where legal loopholes are cynically exploited, we will close them. And where employment rights are too weak, we will strengthen them.”

More to follow...