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P&O Ferries reinforces freight operations by furloughing 1100 staff onto government pay scheme

P&O FERRIES’ operations on the Dover-Calais route are vital to the wellbeing of the people and economies of Northwestern Europe. Today the company is announcing a significant strategic shift to reprioritise its efforts on its freight operations and maintain the flow of goods, including medical supplies, between the United Kingdom and Europe.

Janette Bell, Chief Executive Officer of P&O Ferries, said: “Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, we are all grappling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact.  P&O Ferries is having to respond with new measures to keep the business operational and to keep freight moving, which is vital to the economies of the United Kingdom, France, Ireland and the wider EU.

“With respect to the United Kingdom, we bring in about 15% of all the goods that the country currently urgently needs.  The biggest part of which [33%] is food, including fresh fruit and vegetables from southern Europe and North Africa, as well as vital medicines and medical equipment.  P&O Ferries is also handling important but hazardous goods such as detergents and cleaning products.

“Ordinarily, for P&O Ferries to provide the service required for the transport of freight, there needs to be a mix of passengers and cargo on the ships.  However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, there are now very few passengers travelling and we cannot sustain these normal operations.  Consequently, P&O Ferries will be suspending its passenger business and we will be focusing all of our efforts on maintaining the flow of freight to Britain.

“This means that 1100 of our hard-working and dedicated staff in the passenger services part of our business will be furloughed onto the Government’s pay scheme.  Without being able to make this decision, we would not be able to continue any of our operations.  We will be doing all that we can over the next weeks and months to support all of our staff – furloughed and still working – through these difficult times.”

For those employees in Britain affected, the Government scheme will cover 80% of their salary and the company will cover the rest up to their basic salary.  Other European countries have similar schemes.

Mar 26 2020


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