Derry rally organised to support shocked P&O staff at 4pm today

A rally is to be held in Derry today (Saturday) to support the 800 shocked P&O staff who found out this week that they were losing their jobs.

On St Patrick’s Day P&O announced it is making changes to its programme of work resulting in significant disruption across services over the new few days. Staff on the ferry at Larne were escorted off a boat on Thursday but returned yesterday to make their feelings known. They were joined by trade union members and politicians.

While the protest was taking place the ferry, the European Causeway, remained docked at the port with members of the replacement crew visible on board.

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Danny McDonald, who worked as an assistant manager on board, said he was made to feel like a criminal when two security guards escorted him to his cabin to collect his possessions after he was sacked on Thursday.

Security & Severance Teams Board the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour. Pacemaker Press
Security & Severance Teams Board the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour. Pacemaker Press
Security & Severance Teams Board the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour. Pacemaker Press

“I felt very like I’d done something wrong, I felt like I was in trouble, like I was being arrested,” he said.

A spokesperson for the rally to be held in Derry today said the event has the full support of Derry Trades Union Council, adding that it was important to send a message of support to the beleagured staff.

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He added: “We need to fight back....Other companies are watching closely to see if they too can fire and rehire workers...This is a fight for every single one of us!”

The rally in support of the P&O staff will begin at 4pm today, in Guildhall Square.

Sailings to and from Larne and Cairnryan remain cancelled and the company is organising travel for customers via an alternative operator.

Hannah Brown, senior transport policy officer at the Consumer Council, reminded customers of their rtights, saying: “Passengers who were due to sail on P&O Ferries over the coming days are entitled to an alternative sailing to their destination at the earliest opportunity under comparable conditions at no additional cost, or a full refund.

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“Passengers may also be entitled to compensation depending on the length of delay to their final destination and the cause of the delay. P&O Ferries is advising customers who are due to travel to check its Twitter for the latest advice.”

The Consumer Council added if your ferry is cancelled, you should be provided with the following:

A choice of an alternative sailing or a full refund.

Overnight accommodation if necessary, provided by the ferry company where possible (but not in instances of severe weather). It can be limited to £70 per night and maximum of three nights.

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You may be entitled to compensation depending on length of delay to your destination and it will be a percentage of the cost of the ticket price. You are not entitled to compensation where delays are caused by severe weather or extraordinary circumstances.

The Consumer Council’s website has a number of free resources including a Plain Sailing guide, which outlines ferry passengers’ rights when faced with delays and cancellations, visit: www.consumercouncil.org.uk