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'Come back to negotiating table' Union tells P&O Ferries as it outlines plans to lay up ships and furlough another 300 employees

24 April 2020

Nautilus has pressed P&O Ferries to return to the negotiating table following its announcement to lay up four ships and furlough another 300 employees in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Nautilus had raised concerns with P&O Ferries in mid-April following the company's draconian proposals to dilute members terms and conditions.

While the company had acknowledged a Nautilus letter sent on Friday, 17 April 2020, it had not provided any further details regarding its proposals. Partner unions have also confirmed that they have had no dialogue nor received any correspondence from the company.

'We hope that management now acknowledge that we have not been properly consulted and a new consultation period should commence in due course,' Nautilus head of industrial Micky Smyth said.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson and Mr Smyth will attend a joint union and industry meeting with Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst on Monday and will take the opportunity to raise concerns with her directly.

On 23 April P&O Chief Executive Officer Janette Bell announced plans to lay-up ships and furlough another 300 employees. 'Like other operators, we have been waiting for the UK government's advice on what support they can give the industry, as well as what conditions they might want to apply on things like routes and supply lines.

'However, we've had nothing so far and we can't wait, as the pressure on the business continues, so we have to act.'

In March P&O suspended its passenger business and furloughed 1,100 employees.

P&O transports about 15% of all the goods that come into the UK, including large volumes of food and medical supplies.

The company has been looking to find around £250 million in funding to ensure it can come through the current crisis. The firm has asked the UK government for £150m of support. It is also seeking support from major shareholder DP World.


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