According to the transport secretary, a P&O Ferries ship is being held in Northern Ireland because it is “unfit to sail” The European Causeway was held in Larne, according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
According to the MCA, there were “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training” P&O Ferries laid off 800 employees without cause eight days ago. The company stated that it would make the necessary changes to return the ship to service.
Unions have also expressed concerns about a lack of training for new crew members as a result of the company replacing their members with workers whose average hourly rate of pay would be £5.50, less than the UK minimum wage.
The European Causeway connects the Scottish towns of Larne and Cairnryan. On Twitter, P&O Ferries informed customers that its services on this route had been suspended, adding, “It is no longer possible for us to arrange travel via an alternative operator on this route.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ call for P&O Ferries’ CEO to resign on Friday. Peter Hebblethwaite admitted to MPs that he broke the law by failing to consult workers prior to job cuts, but he said he would do it again if he had to.
The MCA confirmed that there were no passengers or freight on board the European Causeway when it was impounded in Larne. The vessel would be detained until P&O Ferries resolved all issues, according to the statement.
“all P&O vessels” Mr Shapps wrote on social media, adding that the ship’s detention followed an instruction from him to the MCA to inspect “I will not compromise the safety of these vessels, and P&O will not be able to rush inexperienced crew through training.” before they returned to service.
Labour’s Louise Haigh demanded that the fired employees be reinstated and that Mr Hebblethwaite be “barred” from serving as a director.
The shadow transport secretary wrote on Twitter, “The shameful misconduct of P&O Ferries has ruined livelihoods, and is harming the UK’s key shipping routes,”
An MCA inspection found the European Causeway “not sufficiently ready for entry into operation” according to P&O Ferries.
“We shall review the findings, make any changes required and continue to work closely with the MCA to return the ship to service.” says the company.