What is happening with P&O Ferries?

NI Ferry Site shares with MARPRO readers the situation with the P&O Ferries. Most freight and passenger P&O Ferries services remain suspended with bookings not being taken for services until at least Saturday. The suspension began ahead of the majority of the company’s crew, some 800 people, being made ‘redundant’ without notice last Thursday.


The suspension of services is a result of P&O ferries making 800 seafaring staff redundant without notice last week. They found out via a pre-recorded video message as security staff and replacement crew walked on to the vessels.

P&O Ferries states that the changes are needed to make the company viable. Irish Ferries, which had already gained a reputation for cost cutting due to making most of its Irish crew redundant in favour of Latvians in late-2005, refused an agreement with French and UK unions to pay UK minimum wage to their cross-channel staff.

While the majority of seafarers made redundant were from the UK and Ireland, a number were also from Southern and Eastern European countries.

People have made comparisons with the actions of Irish Ferries in 2005. One key difference is that Irish Ferries had consulted with unions and announced its intention to make staff redundant a number of months prior.

P&O’s action was taken irrespective of the vessels the crew worked on, routes deployed, or their current status.

Media and industry reports have suggested that staff were abandoned with no assistance of getting home. The staff were only returned to the UK thanks for the kindness of rival ferry company, DFDS.

In the case of the passengers on all P&O routes, it is said they have been transferred to other operators. Some later reports suggest that passengers are abandoned. 

Many of the replacement crew, seem mainly provided by Clyde Marine Recruitment. Clyde Marine Recruitment has claimed that it was unaware of P&O Ferries intentions or that the staff it was recruiting and supplying would be taking part in an action to remove existing crew.

Another recruitment agency, Columbia Shipmanagement, is known to be actively recruiting crew for P&O Ferries servicesThe RMT has claimed P&O ferry crews at Dover have been replaced by Indian seafarers being paid 2.38 dollars an hour.

A number of former crew are known to have been offered their old jobs back under new employers. Several officers are known to have already joined other operators such as Stena Line. DFDS has stated publicly that it is prepared to offer roles to some former P&O crew.

Presently there are no clear indications as to when any of the affected P&O Ferries services will resume. Training an entire new crew to operate a ferry is no small task which usually takes weeks rather than days, and the ships will not be able to re-enter service until they pass inspection. You can read the entire article including all the details by NI Ferry Site HERE. 

Article shared by courtesy of NI Ferry Site – The Ferry News and information website. Sharing the latest news and information about the passenger and vehicle ferries operating in and to the UK, Europe, and beyond.

Narjiss Ghajour

Editor-in-Chief of Maritime Professionals

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