P and O Ferries rejects demands to reinstate workers, with second boat detained over safety concerns

Tue 29 Mar 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

p&o ferries

P&O Ferries has rejected the government’s demand to reinstate 800 sacked workers, saying the request ignores “the situation’s fundamental and factual realities”.

Chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, said transport secretary Grant Shapps’ demand was legally impossible and would close the firm down, resulting in the loss of another 2,200 jobs.

Downfall

“I cannot imagine that you would wish to compel an employer to bring about its downfall, affecting not hundreds but thousands of families,” he said.

The Guardian reports Hebblethwaite’s claims that more than 765 of the 786 crew members to have lost their jobs had “taken steps to accept the settlement offer”, and more than 500 had signed legally binding agreements.

New law

Shapps is planning on introducing a new law requiring ferry operators to pay staff at least the national minimum wage if they operate from British ports, as previously covered in the IOE&IT Daily Update.

The minister tweeted his letter to P&O in which he said he would “block the outcome that P&O Ferries has pursued, including paying workers less than the minimum wage”.

Willing to pay

P&O has said it will pay the rate if other operators do the same, the FT reports.

The move would force Irish Ferries to do likewise. The low-cost operator launched a service on the Dover-Calais route last year using agency staff.

Detained ships

P&O services remain disrupted almost two weeks after the staff sackings, and a second of its vessels has failed a safety test that will keep it out of operation, the BBC reports.

The Pride of Kent has been detained after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) conducted safety tests, reports Sky.

P&O’s European Causeway was detained in Larne last week, also due to safety concerns.

Normal service

Meanwhile, Hull Live reports on the first P&O ferry to sail to Rotterdam since the sackings, with new crews.

On the return to Hull “all cargo seemed to be unloaded as normal and without disruption”, it said.