LONDON, United Kingdom – P&O Ferries said on Monday, May 11, it will lay off some 1,100 staff as it fights the fallout to business from the coronavirus pandemic.
A spokesman for the firm, based in the English Channel port of Dover and a leading European ferry operator, said: “Since the beginning of the crisis, P&O Ferries has been working with its stakeholders to address the impact of the loss of the passenger business.
“It is now clear that rightsizing the business is necessary to create a viable and sustainable P&O Ferries to get through COVID-19.
“Regrettably, therefore, due to the reduced number of vessels we are operating and the ongoing downturn in business, we are beginning consultation proceedings with a proposal to make around 1,100 of our colleagues redundant.”
Unions expressed alarm at the development.
“This is devastating news and an appalling betrayal of the P&O workforce,” said Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail and Maritime Workers Union.
“This is a kick in the teeth for P&O seafarers who have maintained key supply lines to the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The firm, which employs around 4,000 people, first established ferry services in the 1960s.
In late March, as the virus took hold, the firm said passenger traffic had dropped the extent where it had to furlough 1,100 staff onto a government pay scheme as it prioritized freight operations. It added that it transports around 15% of urgently needed goods to the United Kingdom, primarily food but also medicines and medical equipment. – Rappler.com