P&O advises Larne customers to seek alternative travel arrangements

Economy Minsiter Gordon Lyons has said that neither he nor anyone in his department were given any warning about P&O's sudden sacking of 800 employees, including on its Larne to Cairnryan route.

"I regard their actions as disgraceful. P&O has literally ripped up the employment rule book, and, in the process, simply discarded 800 of their loyal and most diligent workforce," he said.

He added: "The stories I heard of staff being escorted off ships, by men in balaclavas, carrying handcuffs, was as sinister as it was outrageous.

It comes as P&O has told customers it can't help them transfer to an alternative operator on the Larne to Cairnryan route.

The operator's sailings on the route remain suspended after the company axed all 800 employees last Thursday (17 March).

P&O, in a tweet on Monday, advised its customers to seek out alternatives for themselves.

Stena Line is the other company sailing to Cairnryan from Norther Ireland.

Meanwhile, it’s been reported Government ministers knew about P&O Ferries’ plan to slash 800 jobs before staff were informed but were told by officials it would ensure the firm remained “a key player in the UK market for years to come”.

The Sunday Times newspaper said it received a leaked memo apparently written by a senior Whitehall official which tried to “justify” the mass redundancies, stating that “without these decisions, an estimated 2,200 staff would likely lose their jobs”.

The memo, which is claimed to have been sent before 800 P&O staff were told of their jobs being lost on Thursday, adds the changes “will align them with other companies in the market who have undertaken a large reduction in staff previously”.

Meanwhile, the RMT Union claims that the company planned to replace staff on P&O ships at Dover with agency workers on £1.80 per hour – which is legal under rates of pay set out by International Transport Federation/International Labour Organisation.

The UK minimum wage is £8.91 per hour.

It is understood the same arrangement can not be put in place at Larne.