‘P&O and their paymasters in Dubai are no longer capable of running a safe service and should be stripped of the licence to operate their ships,’ RMT union general secretary Mick Lynch said yesterday.
He was speaking after a P&O ferry, which operates between Larne in Ireland and Cairnryan in Scotland was yesterday afternoon floating adrift in the Irish Sea about five miles off Larne Harbour.
The European Causeway, which can carry up to 410 passengers, left Cairnryan at about 12:00 BST and was due to arrive at Larne Harbour at 14:00.
Tugs from Larne and Belfast were rapidly deployed and an RNLI lifeboat was also launched to rush to the aid of the vessel.
Ship tracking websites showed the vessel’s automatic identification system (AIS) status was set to Not Under Command, according to tracking websites Marine Traffic and My Ship Tracking – a status reserved for use when a vessel ‘through some exceptional circumstance is unable to manoeuvre as required by these rules and is therefore unable to keep out of the way of another vessel’.
Last month, P&O sacked 800 workers by recorded message via Zoom and replaced them with agency workers.
Lynch warned last week: ‘P&O are running a pirate outfit staffed by undertrained, ill-prepared and super-exploited agency workers.’
He said yesterday: ‘The reports of the European Causeway drifting in water off Larne having lost all power are deeply concerning, not least for the agency crew and passengers onboard.
‘Since our members were viciously sacked on 17 March, this vessel has been detained by the MCA for failing a raft of safety checks.
‘The list of offences is now as long as your arm and the government has to step in and protect ferry safety and jobs.’
The TUC called yesterday for a boycott of P&O Ferries, including government ties with its Dubai-based owner DP World.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘P&O and DP World must not be allowed to get away with their scandalous and unlawful treatment of staff.
‘Companies who behave like corporate gangsters deserve far more than a slap on the wrist.
‘Ministers must sever all commercial ties with P&O and its owner DP World and ensure they do not receive a single penny of taxpayers’ money.
‘After their appalling behaviour P&O deserve to be given pariah status.’