P&O Ferries sackings will not affect Dublin sailings, says Department

Government admits it has ‘limited’ options under Irish law in dealing with company

The Government has admitted that its options are ‘limited’ regarding the decision by P&O Ferries to sack 800 workers.

The company caused outrage when it dismissed the 800 workers by Zoom call on St Patrick’s Day and told them that their employment was being terminated immediately.

At least 60 of the employees sacked by P&O Ferries on Thursday are from Ireland, their trade union Nautilus Maritime has stated.

Most of those affected work on routes between the UK and the continent.


The Department of Transport said it was “very concerned about the introduction of the redundancy package without any consultation or advance notice to staff and has requested details of the package from the company to see if there are any options for the Government to respond”.

However, the department added: “ It is likely that these are limited given the fact that the seafarers are not employed under Irish law.

“ The Department will continue to monitor the situation closely with the assistance of the Irish Maritime Development Office.”

The Dublin-Liverpool route is not affected by the sackings as the workers involved are employed under Dutch law.

However, Mickey Smith, a Nautilus Maritime official, said he estimated that 25 workers from the Republic and 35 from the North were among those who were dismissed.

Most worked on the European Causeway vessel which sails between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan, Scotland.

According to the RMT union in the UK, the workers have been replaced by ones recruited in India at £1.82 per hour (€2.17 an hour).

RMT Secretary-General Mick Lynch said: 'They should face the severest sanctions possible and if needs be the (British) government must use its powers which it has used against oligarchs before.

"This oligarch is from Dubai, the Sultan of Dubai (chairman and chief executive of parent company DP World) that has caused this to happen and we have got to see a direct intervention today about what they are going to do."

The workers affected were employed by an agency in Jersey and are subject to UK law.

Services between Liverpool and Dublin resumed on Saturday

The Dublin-Liverpool route is serviced by two roll-on, roll-off passenger and freight ships, the Bermuda-flagged Norbay and the Dutch-flagged Norbank.

The Department stated: “We have been advised that all commitments with its customers are being fulfilled and they are carrying all trade on the route.

“ On that basis, it would appear that the impact of the P&O announcement last Thursday will have limited short-term impact on freight services on the Dublin/Liverpool route.

" In relation to services between GB and France, we have been advised by P&O that they are liaising with their customers to ensure that they are accommodated on alternative services on that route."

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times