Hundreds of U.K.-based ferry workers suddenly fired — many, via Zoom | CBC News

A ferry operator owned by the federal government of Dubai sparked a livid response from staff and criticism from British authorities Thursday after firing 800 U.Okay.-based crew members with out discover amid plans to switch them with cheaper workers.

P&O Ferries, one of many largest ferry operators in the UK, mentioned the employees can be laid off with “speedy impact” as the corporate cuts prices after posting a 100-million pound ($132 million US) loss final yr.

The British authorities warned that travellers could expect 10 days of disruption on routes to Eire, Northern Eire, France and the Netherlands.

Employees, lots of whom have been fired through Zoom message, reacted angrily after receiving no advance discover of their dismissal and being advised that the ferries can be staffed by a third-party crew supplier. Some locked themselves on their vessels in protest.

‘Wholly unacceptable’ remedy of staff

The British authorities, which offered thousands and thousands of kilos of assist to P&O in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, criticized the best way the corporate had handled “hardworking, devoted” crew members.

P&O Ferries’ passenger check-in on the port of Larne on the north-east coast of Northern Eire, on Thursday. (Paul Religion/AFP/Getty Pictures)

“The best way they’ve been handled at the moment is wholly unacceptable and my ideas are initially with them,” British MP Robert Courts advised the Home of Commons.

“Experiences of staff being given zero discover and escorted off their ships with speedy impact whereas being advised cheaper alternate options would take up their roles reveals the insensitive approach wherein P&O have approached this concern, a degree I’ve made crystal clear to P&O’s administration.”

P&O, like different travel-related companies, was hit exhausting by the pandemic as authorities restrictions and fears in regards to the virus compelled many individuals to cancel journey plans. In Could 2020, the corporate warned that round 1,100 staff might lose their jobs as a part of a plan to make the enterprise “viable and sustainable.”

The ferry operator, a unit of Dubai-government owned logistics big DP World, mentioned it had no alternative however to behave rapidly.

“In its present state, P&O Ferries shouldn’t be a viable enterprise,” the corporate mentioned in a press release. “Our survival relies on making swift and important adjustments now.”

Fired staff to obtain enhanced severance

The layoffs introduced Thursday will defend as many as 2,200 different jobs and be certain that P&O can proceed to hold passengers and cargo to and from Britain, the corporate mentioned. Fired staff will obtain enhanced compensation packages to make up for the shortage of discover, it mentioned.

However Nautilus Worldwide, a union representing many crew members, referred to as P&O’s actions “scandalous” and suggested staff to remain on board their vessels “till additional discover.”

“The information that P&O Ferries is sacking the crew throughout its total U.Okay. fleet is a betrayal of British staff,” Nautilus basic secretary Mark Dickinson said in a statement. “There was no session and no discover given by P&O.”

Mick Lynch, basic secretary of the RMT commerce union, mentioned his group deliberate to take authorized motion in opposition to the corporate and referred to as on the federal government to cease “probably the most shameful acts within the historical past of British industrial relations.”

“We’re receiving studies that safety guards at Dover are looking for to board ships with handcuffs to take away crew to allow them to get replaced with cheaper labour,” Lynch mentioned.

Nautilus Worldwide mentioned P&O obtained greater than 4.3 million kilos ($5.6 million US) of emergency funding from the federal government in the course of the pandemic as a part of program to subsidize freight operators. It additionally obtained authorities assist to pay greater than 1,400 staff furloughed as a consequence of authorities restrictions, the union mentioned.

Thursday’s announcement “is nothing wanting scandalous provided that this Dubai-owned firm obtained British taxpayer’s cash in the course of the pandemic,” Dickinson mentioned.

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