Now a UK shipping company is laying off 800 staff over a 3-minute video message

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P&O Ferries, one of the UK’s leading ferry companies, has made 800 staff redundant with immediate effect thanks to a three-minute pre-recorded video that was leaked onto the internet. It has wreaked havoc in some of Britain’s biggest ports and outraged union officials and workers who refused to leave their ships.

The 24-second clip of the video was broadcast by BBC South East. In the footage, a man whose identity is unknown was heard saying the company had decided to be mostly third-party crewed.

“Therefore, I am sorry to inform you that this means your employment is being terminated with immediate effect for cause of dismissal. Your last day of employment is today,” he said in the video.

The news came after a series of announcements from the company regarding the cancellation of ferries through Dover, which later extended to all canceled P&O ferry crossings for the next few days.

According to the company, the mass layoffs are a necessary measure to ensure its survival. “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business. We recorded a loss of £100m ($130m) year-on-year which was covered by our parent company DP World,” a spokesperson told CNN Business.

He added that the company needed to make quick and significant changes now.

UK national union RMT and union Nautilus are demanding action at the ports of Dover, Liverpool, Hull and Larne urging P&O workers not to leave their ships. Many British MPs called the company’s actions “insensitive” and “shameful”.

Maritimes Minister Robert Courts told the BBC he was “frankly angry at the way workers have been treated”. In the House of Commons, he mentioned that the actions of P&O Ferries were “completely unacceptable”.

P&O Ferries carried over 10 million passengers a year before the COVID-19 pandemic. It also carried around 15% of all cargo and freight to and from the UK. During the pandemic, it experienced a drop in demand and after paying a large dividend to its investors, the company announced that it would cut 1,100 jobs.

Better.com, the online mortgage company, also laid off 900 employees during a Zoom call in December. After the video went viral, CEO Vishal Garg apologized for his handling of the layoffs.

The company announced this month that it was laying off another 3,000 employees.

(Edited by : Thomas Abraham)

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