Eight hundred workers have been fired with immediate effect at P & O Ferries.

This caused chaos at British ports as the ferry operator halted its operations today before the mass redundancies.

P&O, which runs 4 passenger routes, including the busy service between Dover and Calais, says it makes £100 million loss each year. This has been covered by its parent Dubai-state DP world . In a statement, P&O said “this is not sustainable”.

Earlier today the RMT union urged seafarers to remain onboard the ferries, amid fears that hundreds of crew members were going to “be sacked and replaced with foreign labour.”

However, private security officers have now been sent onto the ship docked at Larne Harbour in Northern Ireland to remove staff onboard, according to RMT.

P&O said “making swift and significant changes now” is crucial for their survival. They said that this announcement will “secure the long-term viability of P&O Ferries.”

“The news that P&O Ferries is sacking the crew across the entire UK fleet is a betrayal of British workers. It is nothing short of scandalous given than this Dubai owned company received millions of pounds of British taxpayer’s money during the pandemic,” General Secretary of Nautilus International Mark Dickinson says.

He adds: “There was no consultation and no notice given by P&O. Be assured the full resources of Nautilus International stand ready to act in defence of our members. We believe it is in our members’ best interests to stay onboard until further notice.”

A full time officer onboard the Pride of Hull, Gary Jackson, stated that crew were informed they had lost their jobs through a rerecorded Zoom message at 11am and had not received anything in writing from the company.

The end of a 24-month payment holiday

Over the past two years P&O Ferries took £120m of loans from various lenders. P&O Ferries was granted a repayment holiday, which came to an end this month.

Like many travel companies, they saw a dip in their revenue in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. This resulted in P&O announcing 1,110 job cuts shortly after failing to secure a £150m bailout from the government.


There has been a backlash, that is growing against P&O Ferries since the mass sacking, with staff saying they did not get any notice before they were fired.

The government has said it would review the contracts, after reports the ferry operator was planning to replace staff with agency staff, who were cheaper.

The BBC reports that a cross-party MPs described P&O Ferries’ actions as “callous” and “disgraceful”. This is after unions also criticised the dismissals, calling it a ‘dark day’ in shipping industry history.

P&O has said the dismissals were a “tough” decision to make and it would not be viable as a business if it continued as before.


This article was first published on March 17th, 2022 at 2.30pm and updated on March 18, 2022 at 10.22am