Britain’s leading ferry operator P&O Ferries has sacked crew across its entire fleet after stopping all its sailings on Thursday, including the Hull to Rotterdam service, British media reported on Thursday.
The company, owned by Dubai-based DP World, had told crew to return to port to await a major announcement.
Unions said about 800 jobs across all grades had been axed with no notice and that P&O is planning to use cheap agency staff to operate its ships.
P&O has not yet commented publicly but a company memo posted on social media by Hull Labour MP Karl Turner said the announcement ‘will secure the long-term viability’ of the company.
‘To facilitate this announcement all our vessels have been asked to discharge their passengers and cargo and stand by for further instructions. This means we’re expecting all our ports to experience serious disruption today,’ the memo said.
P&O is the leading ferry operator on the Dover-Calais crossing as well as operating the daily 11.5 hour Hull Rotterdam link. It also operates three freight crossings to Teesport from Rotterdam a week.
The Hull service one of three direct passenger routes to Britain from the Netherlands. The other two are operated by DFDS (IJmuiden to Newcastle) and Stena Line (Hoek van Holland to Harwich). Passengers stranded by the P&O problems are being referred to DFDS.
Unions say they have instructed their members to remain on board and called for government intervention.
P&O Ferries has nearly 4,000 employees and was given £33m in emergency funding by the government to ensure freight kept sailing during the coronavirus pandemic, the Guardian reported.
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