Freight News, Sea

P&O Ferries rejects Shapps’ plea to reinstate sacked seafarers

[ March 29, 2022   //   ]

P&O Ferries has rebuffed a call by the government calls to reinstate sacked 800 seafarers on their previous wages, saying it would cause the company to collapse.

The ferry operator’s chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite rejected the call, which was contained in a letter from Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, saying that 500 of the sacked crew members had accepted and signed settlement agreements and that complying with the request would lead to the loss of all the 2,200 jobs at P&O Ferries.

P&O Ferries’ has replaced 800 sacked staff with agency workers earning an average of £5.50 per hour, less than the UK minimum wage, but in line with current rules governing employment of seafarers. However, the government has promised new legislation to bring seafarers’ wage rates in line with minimum wage rules for land-based workers.

Eleven days after the sacking of its workers, many P&O Ferries services remain suspended.

The UK’s marine and Coastguard Agency has also prevented two of its vessels from sailing – the European Causeway on the Cairnryan-Larne routes and the Pride of Kent on the Dover-Calais route – over concerns over crew training and safety issues.

All Larne-Cairnryan and Dover-Calais services are suspended, although routes between Liverpool and Dublin and Hull and Rotterdam are operating.