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P&O Ferries boss tells employees redundancies are down to £200m losses

The moment that a P&O ferries boss announced that all crew members had been made redundant with immediate effect has been revealed.

In a virtual speech seen by KentOnline, a company boss informed employees that their contracts were terminated due to losses of more than £200 million in two years.

Addressing all affected employees virtually in a scripted announcement, he said the business had lost around £100m per year over the last two years.

"Whilst these losses have been covered by P&O's parent company DP world, it's clearly not sustainable in the future," he said.

"The business cannot continue to operate like this so it has had to consider a range of options in order to reduce costs.

"These circumstances have resulted in every difficult but necessary decision to re-structure the workforce and operations in order to preserve the future of the business. This was only taken after seriously considering all of the available options."

He then confirmed that all serving crew members would be fired, and replaced by a third party company.

"The company has made the decision that its vessels going forward will primarily crewed by a third party crew provider," he said.

"Therefore I am sorry to inform you that your employment is terminated with immediate effect on the grounds of redundancy. Your final day of employment is today."

According to the announcement, employees will be offered an "enhanced severance package that is well beyond the statutory requirements".

This package will be made available in April, provided each employee signs a settlement agreement by the end of March and "complying in full to its terms and conditions".

"I do accept that there are no words that can make the situation any better today," added the company boss.

The company has reportedly lost £200m in two years
The company has reportedly lost £200m in two years

"I realise that this will have come as a shock to you, and we will provide you with all of the ongoing support possible.

"Specifically, we will provide support to help you get another job at sea or ashore whether as a part of DP World, with a crewing company or in another area of work.

"Confidential support including counselling through our employee assistance programme is available until June.

"Thank you for your time today, and in particular thank you for your service to P&O ferries."

Unverified reports say that as many as 16 "handcuff trained" agents were brought into Dover to assist security in removing staff from vessels if needed.

An excerpt from an email that was reportedly sent to the agents read: "I am limited on information I can provide due to a Non Disclosure Agreement hwoever the client we are assisting requires 16 interforce agents (handcuff trained) to support their security teams in the unlikely event their staff become challenging.

"Essentially, our clients client will be informing staff of redundancies and there is a possible risk of backlash."

The announcement seems to confirm fears held by unions that hundreds of UK seafarers employed by the company could be replaced by foreign labour.

Ahead of the announcement, RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are deeply disturbed by growing speculation that the company are today planning to sack hundreds of UK seafarers and replace them with foreign labour.

"We have instructed our members to remain onboard 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.”

P&O Ferries is a separate company to P&O Cruises which is operated by Carnival UK. It split from the ferries part of the business in 2000 and is unaffected by today's announcement.

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