On Friday, trade unions demonstrated at British ferry terminals after Dubai-owned P&O Ferries abruptly fired 800 workers via video message, garnering worldwide condemnation and increasing the threat of major tourist and cargo routes being disrupted.
P&O, which is owned by Dubai port company DP World, is recuperating from a terrible two years when COVID-19 made it impossible for visitors to travel on its routes between the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and other parts of northern Europe.
P&O stated on Thursday that it had lost 100 million pounds ($131 million) in the previous year and that its company could not be sustained without reforms. Staff was reportedly told that in order to save money, the ships will be crewed by a third-party contractor.
About 150 protestors gathered in Dover, Britain’s busiest ferry port, and truck drivers honked their horns in support, although other carriers’ services were not visibly hampered. Demonstrations were also held at the English ports of Liverpool and Hull, as well as in Larne, Northern Ireland.
“Yesterday’s events should also mark a sea change in how we treat workers in this country,” said Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT Union.
rights should be strengthened, according to the overarching Trade Union Congress, which asked for a new law to eliminate the so-called “fire and rehire” practice employed by some companies to re-employ workers at lower salaries to decrease post-pandemic costs.
“Sacked via a pre-recorded Zoom video with just 30 minutes notice – no way to treat employees in the twenty-first century,” stated Transport Minister Grant Shapps.
The government was investigating whether the firings were legal before taking any further action, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office.
On Friday, a request for comment was not immediately returned by DP World.
The operator has halted its operations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as routes between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
While there are other channel crossings to Europe for decent vehicles, decreasing capacity may have an impact on supply lines.
“A prolonged interruption to P&O services, which are important to UK supply chains,” said Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium.
There are fewer alternate routes between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.