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ferry scandal Protest takes place in Larne after 800 P&O staff sacked while MLA blasts company as 'sinister'

Gerry Carroll 'What P&O have done to their workers is horrendous.'

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Unions are calling for the government to take immediate action

Unions are calling for the government to take immediate action

Unions are calling for the government to take immediate action

A small protest has taken place in Larne, County Antrim, after P&O Ferries sacked 800 UK staff without giving them any notice.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll described the tactics used by the ferry company as “sinister” and called for the government to intervene immediately to ensure the workers get their jobs back.

“What P&O have done to their workers is horrendous. Some of those workers have been employed for years and years and they have been treated in a despicable manner. The company has millions in reserve, they would have been able to keep the jobs,” Gerry Carroll told Sunday World.

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Protesters in Larne

Protesters in Larne

Protesters in Larne

“The fact that people knew about this, that it was obviously planned makes it worse. There is a sinister element to it. There was no discussions with trade unions and now we have people facing serious financial struggle, having to rely on food banks, benefits in already hard times. It’s a disgrace.

“The government have to get involved, something has to be done immediately to help those people and stop P&O. This move must be reversed,” Mr Carroll said.

The protest was attended by several unions however there was very little turnout from workers who were sacked, one inside source said they did not want to antagonise their former employers at this stage as they still have hope they may be re-employed.

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Members of the RMT turned out to support staff

Members of the RMT turned out to support staff

Members of the RMT turned out to support staff

They are banking on the governments intervention to have their livelihoods saved.

The Larne protest was organised by the RMT union, but also featured representatives from a number of other unions.

Danny McQuaid, of RMT, who lost his job with P&O on Thursday, said he was "shocked and saddened".

Kerry Fleck, Vice President of Belfast Trades Council, also called on the government to intervene and get the workers jobs reinstated.

“The government need to take action and protect the workers. The bottom line is that if P&O are allowed to get away with this it could happen to anybody. The government need to reinforce the rights of workers. I was talking to one man who worked for the company for 17 years and he wasn’t even allowed to clear out his cabin,” Kerry Fleck said.

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“They have behaved appallingly, you had men in balaclavas with handcuffs dragging staff off the boats like they were criminals. Action has to be taken, companies can’t just sack people on a whim,” she said.

She also raised concern for the break in food supplies delayed coming into the port and for the safety for the ships.

It will be another week before P&O ships can operate from the port.

“I would also like to ask if P&O can guarantee if the boats are safe with them being operated by agency staff with what experience?,” she added.

The Sunday World understands Sammy Wilson made a brief and early appearance but was heckled by a trade union member due to his parties refusal to back Trade Union Freedom Bill.

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