European Causeway P&O Credit VesselFinder

DP World subsidiary P&O Ferries will axe its service between Liverpool and Dublin at the end of the year, not renewing its berthing contract with port of Liverpool operator Peel Ports.

Yesterday P&O said it was “saddened” by having to make what it called a “forced withdrawal” from Liverpool’s Gladstone Dock Terminal – despite being “committed to serving our Irish Sea customers”.

The ferry operator claimed it had “explored all options to continue sailing on this route”.

The withdrawal will leave Stena Line and Irish Ferries as the only operators of ro-pax ferries between Britain and Ireland.

But the once pivotal route has waned since Brexit, with many ro-pax trades relocating to Ireland’s south coast ports of Cork and Rosslare, where they can move customs border-free between Ireland and mainland EU ports.

After P&O’s shock dismissal of 800 workers early last year, and the ensuing outcry, it has not taken long for trades unions to weigh-in after this latest announcement.

“This latest attack on maritime jobs and skills proves that Tory ministers were wrong to believe P&O Ferries and its CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

“He and his management team have shown… they cannot be trusted to operate economically vital ro-pax ferry services… the British government should scrap any shipping contracts it has with P&O Ferries and begin the process of banning them from operating in UK waters, as a matter of urgency.”

In March last year, Mr Hebblethwaite admitted knowingly breaking UK employment law by bypassing a legally-mandated consultation period to sack 800 workers and replace them with agency staff, “at a rate no union would have accepted”.

He said, at the time: “We thought long and hard about the decision, but every single option we looked at would have resulted with the closure of P&O.”

P&O Ferries Tweeted this morning: “All sailings on our Liverpool & Dublin routes are currently sailing on time. Have a nice trip!”

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