And what an awful mess the company and its owners, DP World, made of it yesterday as they handed out immediate severance notices to workers with compensation packages for the “lack of advance notice”.
Chaotic scenes ensued as workers reportedly refused to disembark docked ships and, in Dover, they clashed with motorists after blocking a road close to the port in protest.
Making a point of order in the House of Commons, MP for Kingston upon Hull North, Dame Diana Johnson, said that she understood through the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) that replacement agency staff, mainly from overseas were “in buses on the quayside with a security firm, hired by DP World, wearing balaclavas and taking British crew off these ships.
"This is shameful and it goes against all norms of fair and reasonable behaviour.”
RMT was taking legal advice and calling for the Government to stop what general secretary Mick Lynch said was “fast turning into one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.
Staff have had to deal with uncertainty over their jobs for some time now.
Dubai-based logistics giant DP World bought the company for £322m in 2019. P&O Ferries operates four routes including Hull to Rotterdam – sailings between Hull and Zeebrugge were axed in January 2021. Amid the pandemic, the company warned in May 2020 that around 1,100 workers could lose their jobs.
P&O Ferries said yesterday that DP World had covered its £100m loss year on year, and that carrying on in that way was not viable.
But such explanations will not be enough for families now reeling from lost livelihoods and the way it all unfolded.