Huge Controversy As Major UK Cruise Company May Fire & Rehire Employees

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There are reports that Carnival UK, the branch of the Carnival Group PLC responsible for P&O Cruises and Cunard, may be considering a controversial plan to fire over 900 members of staff and then re-hire them on new terms.

Iona from P&O passing under a bridge at Lisbon

The company is engaged with the Nautilus union responsible for the staff members with a plan to change the terms and conditions of their contracts.

However, it’s claimed that the cruise company has notified authorities that it may fire 919 crew members and then open up the roles under the new terms, if they can’t be agreed in negotiations.

Carnival UK has denied the plan and said that it is “categorically not making any redundancies”, but Nautilus has referred to the Form HR1 submitted to the UK government, in which Carnival has written “Dismissal and re-engagement may be considered if agreement cannot be reached on new terms.”

The union has claimed that Carnival wants to cut the working days for crew by 20% – in real terms, reducing contracts from 243 days per year to 200 days per year, which would represent a significant drop in earning potential for the crew members.

The developments have drawn criticism from Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh, who said “The lives of hundreds more seafarers are once again being upended by bad bosses who know they can get away with it.”

It’s even more interesting considering how P&O Cruises had to defend itself against similar accusations in March 2022 when P&O Ferries (a different company) fired 800 staff and attempted to hire cheaper workers.

At the time, the cruise company had to spend extra on advertising to make clear that it was not the same company as P&O Ferries – and yet now it is potentially making the same controversial move.

Current UK employment law doesn’t block such a move, though plans were announced in March 2023 for a review of the laws to stop it from happening in future.


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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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