P&O is suspending its services until 10 days after this morning’s (Thursday) layoff announcement, the House of Commons has announced. Maritimes Minister Robert Courts delivered a special address following the announcement of the loss of 800 sailors.
Mr Courts said passengers should expect disruption to ferry routes in the coming days, with P&O likely to suspend all services for 10 days. He told MPs: ‘In making this decision to lay off seafarers, P&O has also informed us today that they will be suspending services for approximately a week to 10 days while they locate new crew.’
He told MPs that the affected routes included Dover to Calais, Larne to Cairnryan, Dublin to Liverpool and Hull to Rotterdam, but an “alternative provision” of other operators was being provided.
Mr Courts said: “Passengers will still be able to travel to and from the UK, including across the Channel, with freight in and out of the country. I must warn travelers to expect disruptions over the next few days.
He also condemned P&O’s decision to lay off 800 staff without notice as “completely unacceptable”, saying: “They are dedicated and hardworking employees who have given years of service to P&O. The way they were treated today Today is totally unacceptable and my thoughts are with them first and foremost.
“Reports that workers were given no notice and were escorted off their ships with immediate effect while being told that cheaper alternatives would take up their duties shows the insensitive way in which P&O has approached this issue, a point which I made clear to P&O management when I spoke to them earlier this afternoon.
“I am extremely concerned and frankly angry at the way the workers have been treated by P&O.”
Earlier today Downing Street said the way P&O Ferries informed staff they were being made redundant to be replaced by cheaper agency workers was ‘unacceptable’. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Courts had raised the matter with the company’s chief executive.
“The manner in which these workers were informed was totally unacceptable,” the spokesperson said.
“Obviously the manner in which this was communicated to staff was not correct and we have made this clear. Our sympathies go out to those hard working staff who have been affected during this difficult time and who have given years of service to P&O.”