Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

Search

Changes at Felixstowe ferry firm

PUBLISHED: 15:34 14 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

CHANGES have been announced today to a ferry firm's Felixstowe sailings following the axing of two ships and 122 seafarers.

P&O North Sea Ferries have cut the number of ships operating on its Felixstowe-Europoort services from four to three following falling cargo levels on the route.

CHANGES have been announced today to a ferry firm's Felixstowe sailings following the axing of two ships and 122 seafarers.

P&O North Sea Ferries have cut the number of ships operating on its Felixstowe-Europoort services from four to three following falling cargo levels on the route.

While most of the 122 seafarers – 74 ratings and 48 officers – have been found new jobs or taken voluntary redundancy, a few still expect to be made redundant unless last-ditch talks between unions and bosses find a solution.

But union leaders do not expect it to be many months before they face another battle to keep jobs at Felixstowe with rumours that another Hull ship could be bound for the port to take the place of another Suffolk vessel.

The latest changes – announced on the company's web site – have seen the vessel Norbank moved from Hull to Felixstowe service to take the place of Suffolk ships the European Tideway and the Pride of Suffolk, both now said to be "surplus to requirements".

The Europoort service will now be operated by the Norbank, the 16,776-ton Pride of Flanders, which carries 110 trailers, and the 21,162-ton European Freeway, able to carry 150 trailers.

The Norbank, a fast freighter better suited to the demands of the route and able to compete with the new Stena Line services out of Harwich, is moving to Suffolk because its role at Hull is being taken by the one of the latest cruise ships to become operational.

In December, Hull will take charge of the second of the new cruise ships and this could then force another vessel to move to the route at Felixstowe.

Fears are that this will then make another of the local ships surplus.

P&O NSF said the reduction in the number of ships meant there will be "a reduced schedule and changes to sailing times" for cargo-carriers using its terminal at Felixstowe.

The company said that since it took over the Felixstowe operations from P&O European Ferries in 1997, it has seen no growth in cargo volumes.

That year had been the best year when a fire in the Channel Tunnel had forced much more cargo onto sea routes.

In contrast, the first five months of this year, due partly to long-pegged freight rates being increased and driving customers away to competitors, and over capacity on the Continental runs through the Haven Ports volumes have fallen by 11 per cent.

Ratings on the Suffolk ships have been told they can accept voluntary redundancy, move to Hull to take up new posts, or stay at Felixstowe and take their chances over whether their job remains.

It has created great uncertainty for families, who do not know whether to seek alternative employment or move lock, stock and barrel to the Hull area.

Officials from the RMT, the union for the rail, maritime and transport workers, are angry that full-crewed ships from Hull are being brought in at the expense of jobs from Felixstowe and that local people could be forced to move north and have been working to try to avoid compulsory redundancies.

WEBLINK: www.ponsffreight.com

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists