Nautilus strongly resists redundancies in intensive negotiations with P&O Ferries

1 June 2020

Nautilus will go into the next round of talks with P&O Ferries on 2 June with renewed determination to resist redundancies for members employed by P&O Crewing Services (Jersey).

'Members should note that the company has neglected to meaningfully engage with unions from as far back as March, whilst we and our sister unions have always been very open with the company in establishing sustainable and viable pathways past the pandemic,' said Nautilus head of industrial Micky Smyth.

'Nautilus International makes no apology for representing our members to retain jobs during these unprecedented times.'

In the last videolink meeting on 28 May, Mr Smyth led the Union side, and the employer representatives included P&O divisional people director Lesley Cotton and chief financial officer Karl Howarth.

Mr Howarth gave a presentation emphasising the company's financial challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic. P&O's position was that the loss of tourist and freight revenue on the Dover-Calais route means that the company can only offer a three-vessel service.

Nautilus took the view that, with 66% of the company's usual income coming from freight, the continued business from this source would sustain four vessels.

The Union also pointed out that carryings are already increasing on all routes as the UK comes out of lockdown.

P&O is seeking to reduce manning levels on future sailings, and is negotiating with Nautilus on officer numbers in deck, technical and onboard services. The Union's previous submission was rejected as too costly, but a further submission will be discussed on 2 June.

Lesley Cotton asked if Nautilus International was open to agreeing to the company request to agree to voluntary redundancy.

'It is the view of Nautilus,' responded Mr Smyth, 'that while the company is receiving UK government funding from the Job Retention Scheme, the process regarding their proposed redundancies should be paused.'

He added that the redundancies are not justified in any case, as the company will need as a minimum four ships on the Dover/Calais route and has acknowledged that the Pride of York will in future sail again on the Hull/Zeebrugge route.

'The company still needs to retain certain specialist skills,' he stressed, 'and the management will not have the professional manning required to cover these ships if they impose their manning model.'

Members at P&O Ferries will be updated as soon as possible following the 2 June meeting.

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