Transport union RMT has called on the UK Government to take immediate action to preserve UK seafarer jobs and freight services on the Hull-Zeebrugge passenger/freight route, which P&O Ferries has announced is closing.
Following a meeting in Hull with the UK opposition’s Shadow Transport Secretary, Jim McMahon MP and Shadow Shipping Minister, Mike Kane MP, there was condemnation of P&O Ferries’ decision to close this route.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash, said: “P&O’s owners in Dubai might have thrown the towel in but RMT is not giving up on UK seafarers or the future of critical freight and passenger ferries from Hull to the Continent.
“P&O were paid £1.2 mill from the Government’s Critical Freight Grant to maintain the supply chain during the height of lockdown. If the Government is serious about maritime recovery and decarbonisation, they need to take a leaf out of Labour’s book and work with the trade unions to attract a new operator on this vital route to support key seafarer jobs and critical ferry services in Hull and the UK,” he said.
Kane added: “The Government’s maritime policy is dangerously adrift if they let P&O ferries walk away from this route with no effort to secure another operator. The supply of food, medical supplies and goods between the continent, the north of England and Scotland will be slowed and damaged if we lose this capacity.
“Seafarers, dockers and haulage businesses in proud maritime cities like Hull deserve better. Labour are committed to re-building our maritime economy. This means more jobs and training for UK seafarers on international shipping routes, not abandoning key workers and freight capacity at this critical time for our country,” he said.
P&O Ferries has announced that the two ships on the route – ‘Pride of York’ and ‘Pride of Bruges’ – will be withdrawn and sold.
In addition, P&O’s key Dover-Calais route will be reduced to just four ships and the ‘Pride of Burgundy’, currently laid up in Leith and the ‘European Seaway’, idle at Tilbury, will also be offered for sale.