P&O FERRIES are suspending sailings for the next seven to 10 days, as 800 were sacked ‘with immediate effect’.

The ferry company has now suspended sailings, but the decision to sack 800 staff with immediate effect has been branded “holly unacceptable” by parliamentary under-secretary for transport, Robert Courts.

The company defended the mass redundancies, saying it’s losing £100m a year. “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business,” said a spokesperson.

“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.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the treatment of workers was “disgusting”.

“It just makes my blood boil. It is a complete betrayal of the workforce. It’s just disgusting,” he told BBC Radio Humberside.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch also said that the union is threatening legal action against the firm, calling yesterday’s move one of the “most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.

Read our P&O live blog below for the latest updates and information…

  • Protestors DEMAND P&O reverse its ‘appalling decision’

    Hundreds of protestors gathered at UK ports demanding P&O Ferries to reverse its “appalling” decision to sack 800 seafarers.

    Demonstrations were held in Dover, Liverpool, Hull and Larne in Northern Ireland a day after the DP World-owned company fired the staff with no notice and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.

    The protesters included sacked workers, seafarers from rival operators, trade union leaders, politicians and members of the public.

    Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh, who joined the rally in Dover, described P&O’s actions as “nothing short of a national scandal”.

    “This is a disgraceful way for a Dubai-based conglomerate to treat British workers in this country,” she told the PA news agency.

    She added: “I will be taking action in Parliament next week to push the Government to take sanctions against P&O now, to push leverage on them, to force them to change course and if it’s not illegal … then we need to make sure it is immediately made so.”

  • Manchester Mayor urges Government to nationalise P&O

    Speaking at the protest at the Port of Liverpool, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the Government should consider nationalising P&O.

    He said: “I say to the Prime Minister: you have to step in and you have to deliver on your commitment to strengthen employment law so this kind of gangster practice can’t be allowed to happen any more.”

  • Mass sacking ‘is nothing short of a national scandal’

    The shadow transport secretary has said that 800 P&O workers losing their jobs is “nothing short of a national scandal”.

    Louise Haigh, who joined protesters in Dover, told the PA news agency: “It’s nothing short of a national scandal that 800 P&O workers were unceremoniously dismissed on a pre-recorded Zoom call yesterday and I wanted to come straight down to Dover to stand with these workers and show my full solidarity.”

    She added: “I will be taking action in Parliament next week to push the Government to take sanctions against P&O now, to push leverage on them, to force them to change course and if it’s not illegal … then we need to make sure it is immediately made so.”

    She said that P&O workers “deserve more” than what happened to them.

    “This is a disgraceful way for a Dubai-based conglomerate to treat British workers in this country,” she added.

  • P&O boss says job cuts will halve crewing costs

    P&O Ferries will halve crewing costs through by replacing 800 seafarers with agency workers, according to the boss of the ferry operator.

    In a letter obtained by Mirror Online, Chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite explained: “The changes we’re making to our crewing model today (will) reduce our crewing costs by 50%.”

    He wrote that the firm was “severing the contracts of all 800 Jersey-contracted seafaring colleagues with immediate effect”.

    He added: “We have entered into a new partnership with International Ferry Management (IFM) who are an international crewing company, and they will be responsible for providing new crews for all those ships affected by this change.

    “Our new teams of seafaring colleagues have already joined our ships.

    “Our new crew are now going through a process of intense familiarisation and training programme on our ships, run by IFM.

    “Only when that process has happened, will we gradually return to a normal service safely and securely – upholding our P&O standards and brand.”

  • ‘We were left high & dry when P&O cancelled our ferry’

    A COUPLE have been left “high and dry” after P&O Ferries cancelled their trip and sensationally axed hundreds of staff.

    Gavin and Jackie Shaw had a P&O ferry booked from Larne in Northern Ireland at 4pm on Thursday but were left stranded after the firm’s mass sackings.

    Mr Shaw told Sky News this afternoon he and his wife had “heard nothing from P&O” and were forced to re-book another ferry with rival firm Stena Line for £174. 

    He said: “We are left a wee bit high and dry.

    “P&O were trying to say that all their tickets would be honoured by Stena Line. I am afraid this turned out not to be true.

    “Stena Line don’t know anything of this so-called arrangement. We have had to rebook with Stena Line at a cost of £174, which is unfortunate.”

    Mr Shaw said he has tried to “frequently” contact P&O but has not been able to speak to any member of staff.

  • ‘Not something government can stop’

    A minister has claimed that the government is unable to prevent P&O sacking 800 seafarers and ultimately replace them with cheaper agency staff.

    Armed forces minister James Heappey told BBC Breakfast that the government was powerless to stop it saying, “I think that is the reality”.

    Heappey continued: “The government anger will mean very little to those who have been sacked. I do feel very sorry for those people.

    “I do think P&O have behaved disgracefully and I wish that P&O had given the government and the unions more opportunity to engage with them to try to save those jobs.

    “Ultimately, it is not something the government can stop P&O from doing. Now the focus will be on supporting those who have lost their jobs.”

  • Explained: Who owns P&O? 

    Although originally a British owned company, P&O Ferries was sold to DP World, an international Emerati logistics company based in Dubai in 2006.

    It was taken over by investment company Dubai World shortly after.

    Then, in February 2019 DP World bought P&O Ferries back from Dubai World in a deal costing an estimated £322million.

    P&O, who employed 1,700 staff back in 2020 has suffered sustained financial losses of “£100m year on year” according to a P&O statement released on the day of the mass redundancies.

    A statement, released on March 17, 2022, said: “We are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.”

  • P&O worker slams the Dubai-owned firm

    RMT boss Mick Lynch branded the sackings “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.

    And one P&O worker slammed the Dubai-owned firm for “stabbing us in the back”.

    The dad of two, in his 20s, said of his video call firing: “I had to switch  off.

    “They claim the firm is running at a £100million loss  but DP World who run it from Dubai is thriving.

    “What they want is British seafarers gone as they see us as too expensive.

    “The new foreign workers are already on board. And I’ve got nothing against them. But clearly the company has been planning this behind our backs for a  long time. It’s not fair.

    “We should have been given notice. Not half an hour.”

  • Employees ‘fired via Zoom’

    P&O employees were ambushed yesterday morning via Zoom and reportedly given just “five minutes to get their stuff and get off the ship”.

    Security teams in balaclavas were then drafted in to remove P&O staff — some given just five minutes to gather gear from quarters.

    Defiant captain Eugene Favier refused to leave his Pride of Hull ferry in protest and barred cops and security from boarding.

    Other workers blocked roads near Hull and Dover as queues of lorries built up.

    Passengers were marched off ships, or stopped from boarding, leaving thousands stranded.

  • P&O workers clashed with motorists in Dover

    P&O workers in Dover yesterday clashed with motorists after blocking a road close to the port in protest at being sacked.

    Dozens of employees who lost their jobs stood on the road with banners and flags saying “Stop the P&O jobs carve up”.

    A lorry driver trying to enter the port began shouting and beeping at those in the road, before being told “we’re not moving”.

    One of the protesters, who had worked for the company for decades, told the PA news agency: “I refuse to move from this road, all this service for nothing.

    “The police will have to take me away.”

  • How much compensation can I claim?

    According to ABTA, you are entitled to compensation of 25% of your ticket price for the part of the journey that was affected, and if your service is delayed for at least:

    • One hour for a journey of four hours duration
    • Two hours for a journey of four to eight hours duration
    • Three hours for a journey between eight and 24 hours duration
    • Six hours for a journey of more than 24 hours duration.

    If the delay exceeds double this, you’ll get 50% of the ticket price and you should get it within one month.

    “But don’t assume when it comes to extras,” Martyn added.

    “Speak to P&O to see if it’s willing to cover additional costs – don’t just book into a fancy hotel and hope it will cover it because of the chaos today, you might not get your money back for it.”

  • What does P&O stand for?

    P&O is the abbreviation for The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

    It was founded in 1837 by London shipbroker Brodie McGhie, former Royal Navy clerk Arthur Anderson, and Dublin Shipowner Captain Richard Bourne.

    The company won contracts to transport mail via sea.

    This included a government contract to transport the precious written cargo between Falmouth, Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon, Cadiz and Gibraltar. 

    The first P&O ship was called the William Fawcett and was owned by Richard Bourne.

    It travelled on routes from London to Spain and Portugal in 1835.

  • Can I get compensation if my trip doesn’t go ahead?

    ABTA says your ferry operator should offer you accommodation free of charge if your ferry has been cancelled and you’re stuck for the night.

    You should be able to claim back the amount you’ve paid for accommodation, though this may be subject to a limit.

    Typically this is a maximum of £66 a night per passenger for a maximum of three nights.

    But the actual amount you can claim will depend on the specific situation, including how long you have had to wait among other factors.