“P&O today suspended all its ferries and disembarked passengers from its ships amid speculation it is planning to fire all its UK staff on the spot and replace them with ‘cheaper foreign labour’.
The UK’s largest ferry operator said it was preparing to make a ‘major announcement’ that would ‘secure the long-term viability’ of the company – adding that it was not going into liquidation.
Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union general secretary Mick Lynch said there is ‘growing speculation that the company are today planning to sack hundreds of UK seafarers and replace them with foreign labour’.
He added: ‘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.’
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the House of Commons he is ‘concerned’ by the situation. Meanwhile, DUP MP Jim Shannon claimed in the Commons that nearly half of the firm is owned by a Russian business.
‘I understands that 40% of the holdings of P&O Ferries is held by a Russian company,’ he said.