P&O Ferries worker says he has lost 'dream job' after company sacked 800 staff

Khan Sprague said he has lost his 'dream job' out at sea and that he 'never saw this coming'. Credit: PA / ITV Meridian

A steward who worked for P&O Ferries says he is devastated by the announcement that 800 members of staff are being made redundant.

Khan Sprague said he has lost his "dream job" on the Spirit of Britain and that he "never saw this coming".

P&O said it lost £100million year on year, which has forced it to make "swift and significant changes now".

Staff will be replaced by agency workers, in a move that unions have called "outrageous". Seafarers were given immediate severance notices this morning (17 March).

Khan was one of those who found out he had been sacked by P&O.

WATCH: Khan Sprague speaks to ITV Meridian from the Port of Dover.

He had moved down to Dover for the role, like many others who worked for P&O. Originally from Lancashire, he fears he now may have no option but to move back.

Up until the moment he found out, Khan thought everything was okay and staff were gearing up for the "Easter rush".

He fears there isn't much work around Dover, or in the maritime industry in general.

Khan hopes his Union will be able to help him, with both the RMT and STUC unions calling the move by P&O an "outrage".

Mr Sprague says he thinks he will have to move back to Lancashire.

Both unions are calling on the government to step in and halt what they call "an abuse of power".

STUC general secretary Roz Foyer said: “This is a damning, outrageous move from P&O and we offer our full support to the RMT union and all their members.

“We cannot – and will not – permit hundreds of workers to be sacked on the spot to be replaced by cheaper labour whilst P&O scramble to remain viable."

Whilst the RMT is calling for the Secretary of State to "intervene" and protect seafarers.

It has instructed members to remain onboard and is demanding its members across P&O's UK operations are protected, and that the Secretary of State intervenes.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch said these job losses are a major 'outrage'.

"There are nearly 400 RMT members working on those vessels and there is probably another 50 or 60 around the country.

"This is a major job loss for Dover and the Kent area and it is an absolute outrage".

WATCH: Mick Lynch says the move by P&O Ferries is a flagrant abuse of workers.

In a statement, released on Thursday afternoon, P&O Ferries said: “P&O Ferries plays a critical role in keeping trade flowing, supply chains moving, and connecting families and friends across the North and Irish seas and the English Channel. We have been at the heart of this service for years and we are committed to serving these vital routes.

"However, in its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business. We have made a £100m loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.

"These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options. As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.

"In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK. And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years.”

The decision has been condemned by Dover MP Natalie Elphicke, who said:  “Today’s announcement is also a u-turn on assurances given to me and the RMT Union over the last two years.

"DP World should rethink their behaviour and reverse this decision.  

“Not only is this disgraceful and irresponsible corporate behaviour by DP World, their appalling mishandling and mistreatment of their workers now threatens to cause chaos on Kent roads and wider harm to the UK economy as a whole - DP World should be held to account for any disruption.”