New union demonstrations are now the latest of P&O Ferries’ troubles after the company fired 800 seafarers last month.
On April 19, around 80 people staged a protest in Calais to show their solidarity with the UK unions. Among the protestors were French P&O and DFDS employees as well as their unions.
The demonstrations, which included a march on P&O’s parent company’s offices, come after the company fired seven crewmembers when they returned to their ship from shore leave and were found to be intoxicated. The workers were some of the replacement staff that were onboarded after the initial mass firing.
In a statement, P&O confirmed the firings, saying it has “a zero-tolerance policy towards drinking whilst on duty.” The company also said passenger and crew safety is its main priority.
There was also an incident on April 19 where an International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) inspector was denied access to the Port of Dover. The inspector was there to look into welfare issues that was raised by the replacement crews on some of P&O’s Dover-Calais ferries.
P&O’s troubles began when the company laid off 800 workers on March 17 without giving them advance notice. The company then replaced the workers with cheaper foreign labor, saying the move was vital for its future.
Since then, the company has faced widespread outrage from the UK and throughout the world, and it has been under a lot of scrutiny as well.
Multiple P&O ferries are currently in detention, causing disruptions to sailings. Just last week, the company had to cancel sailings on its Dover to Calais route over Easter weekend after the Spirit of Britain ferry was detained for failing safety inspections.
The suspended sailings have heavily impacted those who use the ferry for commuting regularly across the English Channel. Truckers and passengers have been encouraged to use competitor DFDS for transportations, but trucking services have complained that there are long delays.