P&O Ferries considered plan to 'remove antagonists' at Cairnryan port

  • Video report by Greg Hoare

P&O Ferries considered a plan to remove staff they considered to be "blocking progress" at the port of Cairnryan. 

The company's CEO has confirmed to MSPs a document was drawn up last year, recommending removing so-called "antagonists" in order to set an example and evoke "shock and awe" amongst other port operatives and office staff. 

The aim was to introduce a "high performance culture" at the port, while removing staff seen to be "driving down" team morale. 

Another of the plan's recommendations was to change some job roles and team structures at the port, and "selectively retain or exit" some team members.

The plan also considered switching from directly employed staff to agency workers, but this was not recommended by the document.

In March 2022, P&O Ferries let go 800 seafarers and replaced them with agency workers, but staff at the port of Cairnryan are land-based, and not included in the 800.

ITV Border has seen the document, and a source told Representing Border it had upset staff and showed an aggressive style of management. 

P&O Ferries did not respond to our request for comment, but giving evidence to MSPs at Holyrood the company's CEO confirmed the existence of the document.

Scottish Conservative MSP Liam Kerr asked: "You are telling this committee there are no strategic plans whether in draft or finalised, to do anything to the land based staff at Cairnryan?"Peter Hebblethwaite replied: "There is a document that exists to that effect, but it's from a number of months ago, last year, and none of those options have been taken forward."

On whether jobs could be lost at Cairnryan, the P&O Ferries CEO said: "The short answer is no, the Cairnryan port is very very important to us."

He pointed out the company had invested £40m in the port, and said it was a key part of their plans moving forwards.