Published: 16:37, 11 May 2020
| Updated: 17:42, 11 May 2020
P&O Ferries has announced 1,100 people will lose their jobs as the operator fights to stay afloat.
In what has been described as a "betrayal to staff", it comes after the cross channel ferry firm furloughed 1,100 people in March because of the downturn in demand amid travel restrictions.
A further 300 staff were stood down in April when the company announced it has laid up four of its ships.
A spokesman for P&O Ferries said today: "Since the beginning of the crisis, P&O Ferries has been working with its stakeholders to address the impact of the loss of the passenger business.
“It is now clear that right-sizing the business is necessary to create a viable and sustainable P&O Ferries to get through Covid-19.
“Regrettably, therefore, due to the reduced number of vessels we are operating and the ongoing downturn in business we are beginning consultation proceedings with a proposal to make around 1,100 of our colleagues redundant.”
So far there is no breakdown from the company as to whether these are crew, shore based, managerial or directorate roles or whether they are based solely in Dover but Mick Cash, secretary of the RMT Union included workers from Hull whom he described as being "kicked in the teeth" in a scathing attack on the firm.
The redundancies make up a financial package that includes cost savings from staff and unions.
P&O has asked the government for a £150m bailout while its parent company DP World has said it will help.
It is understood P&O has now received the government cash.
Tell us if you are affected by P&O's cost-cutting measures
MP for Dover and Deal Natalie Elphicke said: “This news is incredibly disappointing. My first thoughts are with the affected P&O employees and their families. I have done everything possible to work with P&O and the unions to avoid job losses. I continue to press company bosses to save as many jobs as possible.
“Let’s remember that P&O, which is owned by the Sovereign State of Dubai, has received millions of pounds of financial support from our Government in recent weeks. There can be no doubt that Dubai has more than enough money to keep P&O going in full.
“It cannot be right for them to have taken millions of pounds from the hard working British taxpayer in furlough and freight support payments and then decide to pull the rug. It’s time for them to stump up or sell to better owners.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “This is devastating news and an appalling betrayal of the P&O work force.
“This is a kick in the teeth for P&O seafarers who have maintained key supply lines to the UK during the Covid -19 pandemic.
What is utterly shameful is P&O have been kept afloat by our members and the taxpayer whilst their owners have been paying out hundreds of millions in dividends in Dubai and cooking up plans to permanently replace UK seafarers with low cost seafarers from thousands of miles away."