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North Wales MP Warns of Worker “Fear” after P&O's Mass Sacking

25th March 2022
A Welsh MP for Anglesey (Ynys Môn) which includes the Port of Holyhead, has in the House of Commons debated workers rights and raised concerns from local seafarers jobs following P&O's sackings. Above Stena Adventurer nearing completion of a crossing from Dublin Port, when approaching off the North Wales port's breakwater. A Welsh MP for Anglesey (Ynys Môn) which includes the Port of Holyhead, has in the House of Commons debated workers rights and raised concerns from local seafarers jobs following P&O's sackings. Above Stena Adventurer nearing completion of a crossing from Dublin Port, when approaching off the North Wales port's breakwater. Credit: RTE News-twitter

P&O Ferries sacking of 800 staff which has “struck fear” into North Wales ferry workers, Anglesey (Ynys Môn) MP Virginia Crosbie has warned.

On Thursday (last week), P&O Ferries announced the sacking of 800 staff with immediate effect, who were to be replaced by agency workers in order for the company to remain a “viable business”, an act condemned by the UK Government.

Virginia Crosbie MP told the House of Commons of the uncertainty this has left among other ferry workers, including those in her constituency who have close ties to those that had worked for P&O.

Mrs Crosbie said: “I say all this to outline the fact that the bonds between my constituents and the employees of P&O are incredibly strong, and also that P&O’s recent actions have struck fear into our local ferry workers.

“I have spent time on the phone with constituents who work for Stena, including David Gwatkin, a steward on board the Stena Adventurer and a union representative.

The NorthWalesChronicle reports more on the ferryport town.

Afloat adds the Holyhead-Dublin Port ferry which operates in tandem with Stena Estrid, is currently in Cammell Laird shipyard on Merseyside for routine annual dry-docking.

While Stena Estrid is operating as the service's only ferry, as relief ferry Stena Nordica Afloat previously reported, has since been redeployed to the North Channel. This is to boost Belfast-Cairnyran capacity with added sailings, following more than a week of suspended P&O sailings on the Cairnryan-Larne link.

The Stena Adventurer which is normally the Irish Sea central corridor's second route ferry had departed Holyhead on 9 March when it sailed to the Birkenhead based shipyard.

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!