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Seafarers issued with ultimatum

PUBLISHED: 14:01 17 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 March 2010

UNIONS were still fighting to save the jobs of nearly 100 seafarers at Felixstowe as some faced the prospect of redundancy. Ratings on board the P&O North Sea Ferries' ships received fresh letters in the post this morning, offering them three options for the future.

UNIONS were today still fighting to save the jobs of nearly 100 seafarers at Felixstowe as some faced the prospect of redundancy.

Ratings on board the P&O North Sea Ferries' ships received fresh letters in the post this morning, offering them three options for the future.

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 many families, who do not know whether to seek alternative employment or move lock, stock and barrel to the Hull area.

Today union leaders said they were still negotiating with the company and taking legal advice over the situation.

P&O NSF is shedding 122 jobs at Felixstowe, around 40 of them officers and about 80 ratings.

It is understood the issues surrounding the officers have been resolved with some taking new posts and others accepting a voluntary redundancy package.

The situation has been brought about because falling cargo levels on ships at Felixstowe have forced changes to the company's fleet.

P&O NSF, which took over from P&O European Ferries in 1997, has seen no growth in the past four years in cargo volumes on the 23 weekly each-way sailings to Europoort at Rotterdam.

It has now decided to reduce the number of ships operating on the route from four to three, but changes mean the axing of two Felixstowe vessels – the European Tideway and the Pride of Suffolk, now surplus to requirements – with a Hull vessel being brought in.

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