Angry reactions over mass layoffs at “antisocial and inhuman” P&O Ferries
Mass layoffs at British ferry company P&O Ferries caused many angry reactions, also in the Netherlands. The British government called it unacceptable that 800 seafarers are put out on the street to be replaced with cheap temporary workers. Dutch trade unions are worried by the situation, calling the way the company handled this situation "antisocial and inhuman."
The company, which also sails from the port of Rotterdam to Hull, already had replacement workers ready to board when it announced the layoffs, union officials from FNV and Nautilus found out. Meanwhile, the dismissed staff refuse to disembark. Legal action is already being threatened in the United Kingdom. And all ferry services have been shut down.
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the way P&O Ferries acted and communicated is unacceptable.
According to Marcel van Dam of Nautilus, the company is firing British seafarers working under a Jersey contract. In the Netherlands, that would not have been allowed at all, especially because the trade unions were not consulted beforehand, he said. The P&O vessel Pride of Rotterdam is currently berthed at the quay in Rotterdam. According to Van Dam, the crew there sympathizes with their British colleagues.
P&O Ferries said that the 2,200 other employees don't have to fear for their jobs. That would include the 130 Dutch seafarers and 150 port and office workers in the Netherlands. But Van Dam doesn't know how far those reassuring words can be trusted.
FNV director Niek Stam called P&O's explanations "nonsense" and the layoff announcement an "antisocial and inhuman message." According to Stam, there has been mismanagement at P&O for years. Last year, the company suffered a loss of over 100 million euros. He worries that the current layoffs won't be enough to turn the tide.
Evofendex, the business association for trade and logistics, worries about the consequences of the abrupt termination of the ferry services. It could severely disrupt transport to and from the British Isles, creating a risk of congestion and longer waiting times at the ferry terminals, the organization warned.
Industry partner Stena Line already reported increased demand for its ferries. As an alternative, truck drivers can also opt for DFDS, which sails from IJmudien to Newcastle. Another option is to go to Calais in France and take a train or ferry to the other side.
Reporting by ANP.