P&O Ferries: rising inflation gives no excuse for brutal sackings

P&O Ferries has introduced a brutal finish to a prolonged truce between labour and capital within the UK. On Thursday, the corporate sacked 800 sailors with out warning. The RMT union mentioned P&O had bussed in lower-paid contract employees to exchange them. The corporate, in the end managed by the Emirate of Dubai, mentioned in a press release that it could have “no future” with out the job cuts.

Ways as aggressive as these have not often been seen in a UK labour confrontation because the Wapping print employees strike of 1986. They make P&O Ferries an outlier amongst UK employers. However industrial disputes are set to extend in frequency and depth as a result of spiralling inflation.

CPI inflation hit 5.5 per cent within the 12 months to January. The median pay settlement within the three months to January was up 3 per cent, in response to information firm XpertHR.

P&O mentioned it had made “a £100mn loss yr on yr”, implying consecutive hits in 2021 and 2020, the final yr disclosed in Corporations Home filings. That might mirror robust buying and selling throughout intermittent lockdowns and journey bans — however not the present buoyant outlook for short-hop leisure journey.

P&O’s maritime employees earned a median of £35,000 every on a yearly foundation in 2020, in response to Lex calculations, for employees starting from ferry captains to deckhands. That in contrast with UK median annual full-time earnings of £31,500. Workers overheads elevated 200 foundation factors to 17 per cent of revenues that lossmaking yr.

Gas prices are prone to be a far larger burden on P&O Ferries than its unionised workforce.

A typical ferry burns three tonnes of gasoline an hour. The price of that has risen from $700 two years in the past to $2,400 right this moment. DP World, the group’s quick proprietor, is closely leveraged following a 2020 buyout of minorities.

By happenstance, UK prime minister Boris Johnson this week visited the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a member, to foyer for will increase in oil and gasoline manufacturing. The actions of P&O Ferries are out of kilter along with his authorities’s insistence that employers must be ready to pay UK employees increased wages as a “Brexit dividend”.

Few UK managers are sufficiently old to have any expertise of pay bargaining throughout a interval of sustained wage inflation. If they’re questioning do it, P&O Ferries gives them with a transparent instance: not like this.

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