M20 DELAYS: P&O sailor sackings could bring m-way chaos to Maidstone
Friday 25th March 2022
THE decision to 'unlawfully' fire 800 ship workers onboard P&O Ferries could have knock-on effect to Maidstone.
With its fleet of five ships currently tied up, freight backlogs are feared with M20 Operation Brock traffic management an ever-present threat until further notice.
Thusdays and Fridays are traditionally the days when trucks leave the UK for the Continent.
Other carriers, such as DFDS and Eurotunnel, have been able to soak up some of P&O's capacity.
DFDS has been laying on extra sailings and the Port of Dover says it has been coping "pretty well". Normal pre-weekend backlogs are being contained on the A20 in the Dover Traffic Assessment Project (TAP), said a spokesman.
The UK government is investigating the sacking of 800 staff at P&O Ferries, one of Kent’s biggest employers and whose ships sail across the Channel.
The dismissals were made with “no notice” last week, no consultation period, union representation and without proper notification to the secretary of state.
Many of the workers who have lost their jobs are from the ME, CT and TN postcodes in Kent, while others lived further afield attracted by the two weeks on/two weeks off rota.
P&O is owned by Dubai Ports World (DP World) and its fleet is registered abroad, principally in Limassol, Cyprus.
It is understood foreign agency crews ready to take over the onboard roles are registered in Malta.
P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite admitted to a parliamentary select committee the company chose to break the law by not consulting with the unions. He argued the unions would never have accepted the P&O proposals, so there was no point in negotiating.
A former senior P&O executive told Daily Downs Mail: "Is DP World simply trying to make the business unworkable so that it can be sold, ships and all, to another carrier? The ships are specially built for the Dover and Calais ports.
"DP World is primarily a real estate business. It owns ports. It was always odd that it wanted a ferry company, albeit the most famous one."
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