P&O ferry departs Scots port for first time since nearly 800 staff sacked by firm

A P&O ferry has taken off from a Scots port for the first time since 800 members of staff were sacked.

Locals in Cairnryan, Dumfries and Galloway, told the Record that the scandal-hit company ‘s European Highlander left the port at 3pm today.

It has been held there since March 17 after the controversial news that workers had been let go.

But images taken today, March 26, at 3.30pm show the ship having departed and believed to be on its way to Larne in Nothern Ireland.

People in Cairnryan saw the European Highlander sailing out and believed there were no staff on board and no tickets available for the sailing.

It came after the firm’s European Causeway vessel failed a safety inspection and was kept in Larne. It is understood to still be detained at the port.

The empty dock at Cairnryan at 3.30pm on Saturday after the ship set off.
The empty dock at Cairnryan at 3.30pm on Saturday after the ship set off.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it couldn’t sail “based on concerns over its safety”.

The agency said: “We can confirm that the European Causeway has been detained in Larne.

“The vessel will remain under detention until all these issues are resolved by P&O Ferries. Only then will it be re-inspected.

“Detention of ships is based on concerns over their safety and to prevent them going to sea.”

The news comes after nearly 800 workers were fired by P&O without notice last week, sparking a massive backlash across the political spectrum.

P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite was urged by MPs to quit after acknowledging there is “absolutely no doubt” the ferry operator was required to consult with trade unions before the large-scale sackings.

The company replaced its crews with cheaper agency workers.

The chief executive admitted that the new crews are being paid below the UK’s minimum wage apart from on domestic routes, but insisted this is allowed under international maritime rules.

P&O have been contacted for comment.

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