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P&O Ferries due to sail again after nearly six weeks from Dover


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P&O Ferries is expected to resuming its freight service between Dover and Calais on Wednesday.

The company is resuming sailings on the route for the first time in nearly six weeks since the service was suspended after its mass sackings on March 17.

Today, it's been confirmed the freight sailings will resume this week while passengers will have to wait until next week.

The latest news comes after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency cleared the Spirit of Britain as the first ship on the company's cross-Channel route fit for sailing after it had previously failed safety checks.

Spirit of Britain had failed its first MCA check on April 12.

The Pride of Kent, also on the company's Dover-Calais route, failed two inspections on March 28 and April 13, and remains under detention.

The original sackings of 786 staff, replaced by cheaper agency staff, caused national outrage.

P&O vessels moored in the port at Dover during the service suspension, photographed last month. Picture: Barry Goodwin
P&O vessels moored in the port at Dover during the service suspension, photographed last month. Picture: Barry Goodwin

A fifth demonstration against this, organised by trade unions, took place in Dover last Tuesday.

On that day it was announced that seven of the replacement agency staff were sacked for drinking on the job.

Yesterday, the firm was accused of trying to slash wages of already low-paid agency workers.

Speaking today, Darren Procter, national secretary of the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union, said he feared for safety once the ships start moving from Dover.

Mr Procter said staff fatigue and 'unsafe roster patterns' could lead to danger on board.

He said: "It's not going to be safe to sail.

Darren Procter, national secretary of RMT. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Darren Procter, national secretary of RMT. Picture: Barry Goodwin

"We believe there is going to be fatality as a consequence of fatigue on board that vessel.

"The problem will come in the next two, three, four weeks when they have to do a crew change, and they've got no knowledge, no experience, no understanding of the vessel or the routes or the intensity of that particular vessel."

Mr Procter, who has helped organise several protests in Dover, said sacked members of staff are still feeling angry over their former employeers decision to lay them off.

He said protests will continue in Dover, in support of seafarers, the public and the community.

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