P&O Ferries, a leading UK ferry operator has laid off 800 employees on Thursday with immediate effect. The company’s farriers were at stand still without any staff on Friday.

P&O Ferries is owned by DP World which is a Dubai based shipping company. They used their website to confirm that there will be significant disruption to its services over the next few days. P&O told the staff in a video call that Thursday was their last day of employment and their services are no more required. However, some workers did not abide by the orders and refused to leave the ship in protest. P&O termed the action as a “tough” decision but it was necessary for business viability.

Union’s reaction

The unions did not take the decision lightly and are registering their protest. They are calling the government to halt the decision and are referring to this as a “scandalous betrayal”. Security staff were preparing to remove crew from ships in Dover and Larne, Belfast, after unions instructed crew not to leave vessels. The union’s general secretary, Mick Lynch, said it was seeking urgent legal action over “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations. “We have instructed our members to remain on board and are demanding our members across P&O’s UK operations are protected, and that the secretary of state intervenes to save UK seafarers from the dole queue.” He added further to his statement.

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    “I am leaving a protest of about 400 people in Dover that he had never seen a moment so low in his 40 years in the industry”. Mark Dickinson, the general secretary of Nautilus International, a maritime workers’ trade union confirmed in a statement.

    Company’s stance on sacking

    On Friday morning, the company again said on Twitter they will not run their operations for the next few days. Meanwhile, the Department for Transport says that the Secretary of State, Grant Shapps was not aware of this happening with P&O until Thursday.

    The company said that they are reducing its crewing costs by 50 percent to set the business up for growth. Peter Hebblethwaite, P&O’s chief executive wrote in an email to the staff.

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