'Absolutely disgusting' - P&O workers' anger after being given 20 minutes to get off ship

Sara O’Kane reports for UTV Live from the port of Larne.

Former employees of P&O Ferries were still trying to find the words to describe their experiences of redundancy at a protest in Larne today.

Workers told UTV Live that they were made to feel like criminals when private security staff came on board their vessels yesterday (March 18) and told them to leave within 20 minutes or face being handcuffed.

Daniel McDonald said: "It made me feel angry, stressed and ashamed. I feel like I'm going to prison, upset, words can't describe how it was dealt with, absolutely disgusting.

"P&O should be ashamed of themselves."

Gale Dowey has worked for P&O for 30 years, she said: "That is our home, they are our family onboard and I spent all day yesterday taking phone calls from grown men in tears having to go back and tell their wives and children in this climate that they have lost their entire career."

P&O insists that all security staff acted appropriately and within regulations. They accept that the lack of warning about redundancies has caused distress to former employees but denied that security had been instructed to use handcuffs.

The company blamed the sacking of 800 workers on losses of £100 million following a slump in travel because of the pandemic. It told the workers they would receive generous redundancies packages.