The ship is being held after failing security checks by authorities. This follows claims by the MCA earlier today the Pride of Kent was undergoing an inspection to ensure it was safe to set sail without passengers or cargo ahead of a full review on a date later. An agency spokesman said: ‘Our surveyors are in the process of detaining the Pride of Kent. It is the second P&O ship to take place. On Saturday, European Causeway remained confined to the Northern Irish port of Larne due to “failures in crew familiarization, ship documentation and crew training”.
While further details are expected this evening, the MCA spokesperson added: “We are awaiting confirmation of all detainable items.”
The Pride of Kent was launched in 1991 as the European Motorway, serving the P&O route between Dover and Zeebrugge. In 2003, she joined the company’s cross-Channel ferry fleet.
The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) said: ‘It is quite rare for the MCA to seize a ferry, but P&O has now had two in one week after the jobs split, which is saying a lot on the disastrous state of their functioning”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote on Twitter: “MCA informed me tonight that they have carried out an inspection on a vessel owned by P&O Ferries.
“As a result, the #PrideOfKent vessel has now been detained.
“Security will not be compromised and further checks will continue.”
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His comment follows a warning this morning that P&O must lift a Thursday deadline for laid-off employees to sign severance and non-disclosure agreements following the company’s order to rehire laid-off staff on their previous salaries.
According to P&O, 430 of the laid off crew members have fully accepted the redundancy offer while only 29 have yet to confirm they will.
Writing to Peter Hebblethwaite, the company’s chief executive, Mr Shapps informed him that P&O Ferries would have ‘no choice but to reverse your decision in any event’ as a set of legal measures ‘would block the result that P&O Ferries has pursued, including paying less than minimum wage”.
Mr Shapps is due to unveil a plan on Wednesday which, consisting of eight points, will include tougher employment laws for ship operators in UK waters. The consultation on layoffs and the minimum wage is part of the planned changes.
In a bid to persuade P&O Ferries to reinstate 800 laid off workers, ministers plan to require all ferry companies operating from UK ports to pay at least the national minimum wage
It comes after RMT said an agency hired Indian staff for shipowner DP World in Dover at a rate well below the national minimum wage, which is £8.91 per hour for workers over 23 years, to replace those whom the company has made redundant.
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RMT general secretary Mick Lynch described the move as a reflection of the brutality of the sackings, which were delivered via a pre-recorded Zoom message with little notice.
He said: “The news that seafarers currently on board ships in UK ports are to be paid $2.38 [£1.81 at the current exchange rate] one hour is a shocking exploitation of these seafarers and another heartbreaking betrayal of those who have been made redundant.
“The rule of law and acceptable standards of decent employment and behavior have completely crumbled beneath the white cliffs of Dover and other ports, but five days into this national crisis the government has failed to nothing to stop it.”
Calling on No10 to intervene, he added: “These ships of shame must not be allowed to sail. The government must step in now and take control before it is too late.”
P&O Ferries argued that firing workers was not just about saving money on wages.
The company said: ‘The projected savings we announced come not just from reduced wages, but from the elimination of duplicate jobs and the benefits we will see from increased flexibility.’
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This notice was published: 2022-03-28 23:00:00