There are concerns that retailers, along with supermarkets in Northern Ireland, will be hit with supply problems due to the decision by the P&O Ferries owners to make many of their staff immediately redundant. Around 60 staff have been sacked here with another 600 around the port of Dover.
Ferry Service Unlikely To Run Again For Around 2 Weeks
The P&O`s Larne to Cairnryan ferry service has been suspended and is unlikely to run again for around two weeks as the company looks to get a new crew together. Two weeks is a long time in the retail business so there moves afoot to see if there is a possibility of using other ports such as Belfast, Warrenpoint and Dublin.
An industry source is quoted in an article in the Belfast Telegraph as saying:
“They are saying they are going to be suspended for a few days, but the minimum I would say you’re actually looking at is another week that they won’t be sailing and it could be a lot longer.
“You can’t simply manage something like this. It’s not like driving a car, you cannot put a wholly new crew onto a ship and expect it to sail the next day. Legally you can’t even do it either.”
Obvious To Insiders That Changes Were Afoot
The same source pointed out that, although the news of the sackings came as a huge shock to many, insiders could see that the company had been making plans for this for a few weeks. He said:
“For a while it’s been obvious that big changes were going to come at P&O.
“This took everybody by surprise but it was interesting because there have been really strange adverts appearing for crew in the past few weeks that nobody could get their head around.
“These job adverts appeared weeks ago and nobody could understand why.
“They were looking for staff with the right to work within the UK for a new Northern Ireland-GB service and nobody could work out what this was about.
“And they were also looking for staff for the English Channel and we all thought that actually it was P&O bringing one of their laid up ships back.’’
Export Materials Also Need To Get Out
Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots is also quoted in the same article about the fact that exporters will also be hindered by the decision of P&O to make wholesale redundancies, saying:
“There are export materials that need to get out of Northern Ireland which won’t get out,”
Let us hope that the ferry service will be running once again in a few days time and that the sacked workers find suitable employment elsewhere as soon as possible.