P&O Ferries said it had suspended all operations and fired 800 staff across its entire fleet on March 17, sparking outrage.
“Our services are cancelled. Where possible we are organizing travel via an alternative operator,” said P&O in a tweet.
In a video message later in the day, P&O staff were told that their “final day of employment is today” and that they would be replaced with cheaper agency workers.
P&O said that the decision was “very difficult but necessary” to “secure the future viability of our business.”
“We have made a £100 million ($131 million) loss year-on-year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now,” P&O further said.
The announcement caused outrage, with some staff refusing to leave their ships in protest and had to be forcibly removed.
Aviation and Maritime Minister Robert Courts called the treatment of P&O workers “wholly unacceptable.”
Nautilus International Union General Secretary Mark Dickinson called the sacking “a betrayal of British workers.”
“It is nothing short of scandalous given that this Dubai-owned company received millions of pounds of British taxpayer’s money during the pandemic,” Dickinson said.
Protests on March 18 are being organized in Dover, Liverpool, and Hull.
P&O is owned and operated by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World and has routes to Dover to Calais; Hull to Rotterdam; Liverpool to Dublin; and Cairnryan, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland.
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