P&O Ferries: Eastern European crew are on board Pride of Hull but 'don't have clearance to sail'

Eastern European crew were on board a Hull ferry on Thursday night but have no right yet to sail the ship, a member of the RMT union said.

Billy Jones, branch secretary for Humber Shipping for the RMT said the Pride of Hull’s Captain had assured the union that the ship - which had until Thursday more than 50 UK crew - would not sail.

It came after P&O sparked outrage by sacking 800 workers and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.

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Mr Jones said: “They (the eastern Europeans) still have no right to sail the ship unless they are cleared by the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency).

Crew on board the Pride of Hull wave from their berth at King George Dock in Hull Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“There’s still a P&O crew on board, a skeleton crew to make sure they don’t take the ship away.”

He said it was “almost the end of the British maritime industry” and accused P&O of turning ferries into “modern slave ships” with the new crew paid as little as £2.60 to £2.80 an hour.

He said: “Once again P&O have struck with their magic wand that make things disappear overnight. They did it two years ago during the pandemic when they were given £30m to furlough staff but used it to get rid of people.

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Members of crew disambarked on Thursday afternoon - however the RMT said a skeleton UK crew remained Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“They took two ships away, the Pride of York, and the Pride of Bruges and it looks as if they are going to take the only remaining vessels the Pride of Hull and the Pride of Rotterdam.”

Peter Dunn, who has been at sea since the age of 15 and worked for P&O for 25 years, said his 44-year career at sea was coming to an end “in a click of a finger”.

The 59-year-old from Hull found out that his job faced the axe in a phone call from a colleague and said he believed the company had acted with perfect timing “when the news is full of Putin”.

He said: “I’m gutted, I’ve been at sea all my life since I was 15 and now I’m 59. They had 1,100 redundancies last year because of the pandemic and got Filipinos in during that time.

The Pride of Hull looks set to stay in dock today Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“We knew the writing was on the wall, but we weren’t sure when it was coming - it is quicker than we actually anticipated.

“They didn’t consult employees. This is the company who say we look after our people.”

The news comes a year and three months after the Pride of York sailed from Hull for the last time.

Passenger Silke Wenzel who was supposed to be among 300 passengers sailing last night on the Pride of Hull to Rotterdam en route to her home in Greifswald in Germany used to work for P&O. She came to the terminal when the news broke. She said: “It is awful, I could cry I am shaking. I worked for P&O on reception for Pride of Hull.

“I said to the girls: ‘Who’s gone - is it even the Captain. I couldn’t believe it.”

Mrs Wenzel said P&O were “digging their own grave” and in future she would take the ferry to Newcastle or fly.