P&O chaos is disrupting freight and international supply chains

The massive layoff of 800 P&O workers is inevitably leading to supply chain and cross-channel freight disruptions.

The dismissal of the controversial 800 employees of the ferry operator P&O without warning is affecting cross-channel freighters and UK exporters and importers, warns international delivery expert Parcelhero.

ParcelHero also warns that the ongoing suspension of service could have serious implications for shipments to Great Britain – Northern Ireland / Republic of Ireland (ROI), already in times of severe disruption.

David Jinks MILT, Head of Consumer Research at ParcelHero, said: ‘P&O is not just a passenger ferry operator, its freight services are critical to the UK supply chain and business. It carries about 15% of all freight in and out of the UK, uses the services of more than 2,000 businesses and operates one-third of the cross-channel ferry market.

At the beginning of 2020, P&O operated 16 ships operating nine major freight routes with 350 departures per week. Last year it shipped 2.2 million freight units. Its services are also closely linked with sister company P&O Ferrymasters, which specializes in shipping from parcels to full loads, although not all of them rely on ferry services.

P&O itself admits: “P&O ferry services will be significantly disrupted in the next few days.” This is probably the one thing that got it right. Of course, other operators, such as DFDS, are taking steps to help fill the gaps, but there are inevitable disruptions. This is further exacerbated by the way in which redundancies have been handled in a heinous, ruthless and sensitive manner, with security personnel escorting long-serving crews off the ship, leading to spontaneous protests and disruptions.

The transport union called on the TSSA government to “take responsibility for operating important ferry routes to protect trade and travel”. Failure to restore P&O services may be the ultimate solution.

P&O claims it lost 100 100 million a year, covered by its parent company, DP World. It argues that it was not sustainable. However, with the end of the Covid restrictions, travel on the continent has now begun to increase again, disruptions to the Brexit trade have begun to stabilize, and Easter holiday traffic is almost at an all-time high. It’s a wonderful time. And let’s not forget that P&O received about £ 15m in government grants in 2020.

‘Stylishly, Brexit and Covid 19 have had a positive impact in some ways, to ensure that most international freight forwarders have become more agile and supportive of their hardworking staff. P&O, however, seems to have missed the lessons of the last few years and returned to the 1970s. Ongoing protests mean a long period of cross-channel freight disruption, which would have been the best practice if it had followed. Clearly, P&O should have consulted with unions and workers about any possible layoffs and informed the government that hundreds of jobs were at risk.

Extremely poor management of P&O in difficult times, especially for GB shipments in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Complex rules regarding shipments to Northern Ireland to avoid creating a land border with the European Union are still proving difficult to navigate. P&O’s Liverpool-Dublin and Cairnryan-Larne services have helped keep things going between GB and ROI.

P&O accounts for about 10% of all consolidated freight traffic through the port of Dublin. It is no small surprise that the Irish government has approached P&O for details of its plan.


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