P&O to 'make all staff redundant with immediate effect'

The company will reportedly now employ agency staff to sail their ships

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Hundreds of staff at P&O Ferries have been made redundant with immediate effect.

800 seafarers will be handed immediate severance notices today, a P&O spokesperson has confirmed.

The ferry operator will now reportedly employ foreign agency staff to sail their ships in a bid to prevent the company going into liquidation.

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer has described the move from P&O as "damning and outrageous".

“We cannot – and will not – permit hundreds of workers to be sacked on the spot to be replaced by cheaper labour whilst P&O scramble to remain viable," Ms Foyer said.

GB News reporter Anna Riley has said P&O staff are now staging a sit-in on one of the ships to protest the redundancies.

Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary, Mick Lynch, said he is "deeply concerned" over the company's plans to sack their UK workers.

Mr Lynch said: "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.”

A P&O ferry docked in Hull
A P&O ferry docked in Hull
A landscape of Hull where P&O Ferries docks it ships
A landscape of Hull where P&O Ferries docks it ships

Labour MP Karl Turner has posted a photograph of a coach which he stated contained “new foreign crew waiting to board the Pride of Hull” at King George Dock, Hull.

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

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has allowed an “emergency statement” from the Government to be made at 5pm today.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has also said he will be taking steps later on today to initiate urgent talks with P&O.

Mr Shapps said in the Commons: “I am concerned with this news which is breaking on P&O Ferries. I understand they have temporarily paused their operations and that’s causing disruption at the short straits – Calais-Dover – as well as some other ports.

“I’m working with the Kent Resilience Forum and I’ve just instructed them to become intricately involved and other partners in this, and we’ll be taking steps later today – including ensuring that my officials will be having urgent discussions with P&O about the situation, particularly of concern for their workers.”

Three P&O ferries, Spirit of Britain, Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Kent moor up in the cruise terminal at the Port of Dover in Kent
Three P&O ferries, Spirit of Britain, Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Kent moor up in the cruise terminal at the Port of Dover in Kent
Lorries waiting to check in at the Port of Dover in Kent as P&O ferry services have suspended sailings
Lorries waiting to check in at the Port of Dover in Kent as P&O ferry services have suspended sailings

This morning, P&O, who sail between Britain, France and Ireland, cancelled all their services and told ships to stay in ports in preparation for the company announcement.

The ferry service said on Twitter: “Regretfully, P&O Ferries services are unable to run for the next few hours.

“Our port teams will guide you and travel will be arranged via an alternative operator.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this will have on your journey plans.”

A P&O Ferries spokesperson said earlier today: "P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation. 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."

Huge queues of lorries have amassed at ports due to the suspension of services.

One driver in Calais due to return to the UK said he had been waiting for a ferry since 6am.

“More than anything I’m frustrated at the fact nobody from P&O was there to help and advise … I’ve never had such shoddy service from anybody,” he said.

The driver, who had to rebook his journey and pay for another ticket at a higher price, added: “I would have appreciated somebody at least telling us what to do."

In a statement P&O have said:“P&O Ferries plays a critical role in keeping trade flowing, supply chains moving, and connecting families and friends across the North and Irish seas and the English Channel. We have been at the heart of this service for years and we are committed to serving these vital routes.

"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. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.

"These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options. As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.

"In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK. And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years”.