P&O Cruises and Cunard prepare to fire and rehire more than 900 UK staff | P&O Ferries #Cruises #Cunard #prepare #fire #rehire #staff #Ferries

P&O Cruises and fellow cruise firm Cunard are preparing to fire and rehire more than 900 UK-based crew unless they accept salary cuts and more flexible working arrangements.

The affected crew include officers on the British flagship, the luxury ocean liner Queen Mary 2, and nine other ships operated under Carnival UK, which is part of the $18bn-listed Carnival group.

The staff work on ships out of Southampton but are employed via a management company based in Bermuda, with notice of potential redundancies signed off by an operational head based in Mumbai.

A total of 919 professional, managerial and technical staff across the 10 cruise ships in Carnival UK and Cunard’s fleet face dismissal in early 2024 unless they agree to changes in terms and conditions that could reduce their annual earnings by up to 20%.

The UK government’s Insolvency Service was notified last week using the HR1 form, used by employers as they are obliged to give officials notice of mass redundancies.

Carnival’s employment firm, Fleet Maritime Services, said on the form: “No redundancies are proposed. Consultations are related to changes in terms and conditions relating to working days and working arrangements.

“Dismissal and re-engagement may be considered if agreement cannot be reached on new terms.”

A consultation with staff representatives about proposed changes only started on 14 November, the day before the form was lodged with government, according to the submission.

The move has strong echoes of the employment “scandal” sparked last year by a completely separate firm, P&O Ferries – which, despite the name, is not part of the same group. The cross-Channel ferry operator apparently took advantage of a gap in legislation, sacking almost 800 UK-based seafarers without notice, to hire low-paid agency crew.

P&O Cruises sought to distance itself from this incident in promotional films, while MPs also stressed that the two firms were not the same. P&O Ferries is owned by Dubai-based DP World, while P&O Cruises is part of the British-American Carnival Corporation and plc, incorporated in Panama.

Most of the crew working on the cruise ships are employed via agencies in Asia, particular Mumbai.

P&O Cruises was found in 2012 to have been paying basic salaries of as little as 75p an hour.

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Louise Haigh, the shadow secretary of state for transport, said: “History is repeating itself. The lives of hundreds more seafarers are once again being upended by bad bosses who know they can get away with it.

“Ministers have sat on their hands and ignored warning after warning that this would happen again unless they stepped in to change the law. The blame lies with them.”

A Carnival UK spokesperson said: “In no way are we looking to remove any roles and in fact we have significantly increased our headcount across our fleet. This is an annual pay review process with our maritime officers onboard our ships and their union which will ensure alignment.

“As part of this we are committed to mutual consulting with an inclusive and transparent process, which is still in its very early stages with no defined outcome. This will empower our staff, deliver the right teams across our fleet and strength to attract and retain talent to work on our ships.”

#Cruises #Cunard #prepare #fire #rehire #staff #Ferries

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