Grant Shapps, the UK Transport Secretary, has called on P&O Ferries to reverse its decision to lay off 800 employees. The company announced the job cuts earlier this month, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its business.
In a letter to P&O Ferries’ CEO, Janette Bell, Shapps expressed his concern about the job losses and urged the company to explore all possible options to avoid them. He also highlighted the government’s support for the maritime sector during the pandemic, including financial assistance and measures to ensure the continuity of essential services.
Shapps wrote: “I am deeply concerned about the impact that these job losses will have on the affected employees and their families, as well as the wider maritime sector. I urge you to explore all possible options to avoid these redundancies and to work with the government to find a solution that supports your business and protects jobs.”
P&O Ferries, which operates services between the UK and Europe, has been hit hard by the pandemic, with travel restrictions and reduced demand leading to a significant drop in revenue. The company has already furloughed around 1,400 employees and reduced its services.
In response to Shapps’ letter, P&O Ferries said it was “actively exploring all options” to avoid the job losses, including discussions with the government and trade unions. The company also highlighted the challenges it faces, including the uncertainty around Brexit and the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
The news of the job cuts has been met with criticism from trade unions and politicians, who have called on the government to do more to support the maritime sector. The RMT union has described the layoffs as a “devastating blow” and called for urgent action to protect jobs and services.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the global economy, with many businesses struggling to survive. The UK government has introduced a range of measures to support businesses and workers, including loans, grants, and the furlough scheme. However, many industries, including the maritime sector, continue to face significant challenges as the pandemic continues to disrupt global trade and travel.
In conclusion, the call by Grant Shapps to P&O Ferries to reverse its decision to lay off 800 employees is a welcome move. The government must continue to support the maritime sector during these challenging times, and work with businesses and trade unions to find solutions that protect jobs and services. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of the maritime sector to the UK economy, and it is vital that we do all we can to ensure its survival and success in the years ahead.