P&O Ferries customers face having their Easter holidays ruined after fully-booked rivals said they cannot honour their tickets from Dover to France this weekend.
Anyone with a ticket from the ferry operator has been able to travel with DFDS, one of Europe’s largest shipping operators, over the past few weeks.
But this mutual agreement is being paused on Friday due to a lack of capacity, leaving ticketholders rushing to get refunds from the P&O Ferries and rebook with its competitor.
This could lead to further queues and gridlocked roads around the Port of Dover, following three-hour waits last Saturday owing to fewer services in the wake of the redundancy debacle.
P&O Ferries suspended its Dover-Calais crossings on March 17 after terminating nearly 800 members of staff to hire cheaper agency workers.
Criminal and civil investigations were launched on April 1 into the company’s decision, which was widely criticised for making seafarers redundant without notice.
And this morning, it was reported that a former P&O Ferries chef, John Lansdown, was suing the business for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and harassment.
P&O Ferries customers face having their Easter holidays ruined after fully-booked rivals said they cannot honour their tickets from Dover to France this weekend, Pictured: Long queues at the Port of Dover on Saturday, April 2
The mutual agreement is coming to an end on Friday, leaving ticketholders rushing to get refunds from P&O and rebook with its competitor DFDS
In a tweet shared yesterday afternoon, the transport firm wrote: ‘All P&O Ferries Passenger Services are suspended this weekend.
‘For travel 8/9/10th April please re-book directly with another operator before arriving at the port.
‘DFDS will not be able to transfer P&O customers onto their services.’
Last weekend’s traffic chaos, which saw some cars stuck for up to three hours, prompted motorists to seek alternative routes towards the ferry terminal causing further delays in towns across Kent which spilled over into Saturday.
Drivers heading to the coast were warned to expect delays well in excess of an hour, while it was reported that some hauliers waited for up to eight hours.
Closures were first implemented on Friday night as part of Operation Brock to allow lorries heading for the channel crossing to be ‘stacked’ on the motorway, in theory allowing them smoother access to the Kent coast.
A Department for Transport spokesman said at the time: ‘We are aware of queues at Dover, and the Kent Resilience Forum and local partners are working to minimise any disruption by deploying temporary traffic-management measures as standard.’
The ongoing dispute involving P&O Ferries has dramatically reduced the capacity of the port.
Last month, P&O Ferries admitted to breaking the law in the manner in which it terminated 800 members of staff to hire cheaper agency workers, a move that has caused a major backlash from politicians and workers (file photo)
Two P&O ferries remain in the Port of Dover, Kent, as freight lorries queue to check in on April 1
Ex-P&O Ferries chef sues company for unfair dismissal and discrimination
A former P&O Ferries chef is reportedly suing the company for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and harassment.
John Lansdown filed a tribunal claim against the company and its chief executive, and is seeking financial compensation and exemplary damages of up to £76million.
P&O Ferries said its job cuts were ‘categorically not based on race or the nationality of the staff involved’, in a statement carried by the broadcaster.
Mr Lansdown told the BBC: ‘This is not just about me. Seven hundred and ninety nine of my seafaring family have lost their livelihoods, their way of life, their homes for half the year.’
A spokesman for DFDS told The Telegraph: ‘As we look towards the weekend, we have very high booking levels, which sadly means we won’t have any capacity available for other operators.
‘We will of course do everything we can outside the peak weekends to carry as many P&O customers as possible.
‘What we don’t want to do is to create a situation where we have to disappoint customers arriving in the port who we cannot get to France because we are full.’
P&O Ferries was widely criticised for making seafarers redundant without notice on March 17.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the Insolvency Service had started ‘formal criminal and civil investigations’.
The Insolvency Service said: ‘Following its inquiries, the Insolvency Service has commenced formal criminal and civil investigations into the circumstances surrounding the recent redundancies made by P&O Ferries.
‘As these are ongoing investigations, no further comment or information can be provided at this time.’
P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite told a joint hearing of the Commons’ business and transport committees that his company broke the law by not consulting with trade unions before laying off workers.
P&O Ferries chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite (pictured on March 24) said his company broke the law by not consulting with trade unions before sacking workers