Tuesday, January 18, 2011

RoRo Freight Ferry Services Will Cease This Month

DFDS Pulls Out of Irish Sea Trade
Shipping News Feature

UK – IRELAND - The review of its Irish Sea RoRo freight ferry services which we referred to in December has resulted in a much swifter reaction than that predicted when it was announced by DFDS. Originally the company said it was to take three months to decide the future of the Dublin to Birkenhead and Heysham routes but a decision to axe them was announced this week.

Speaking for the company Niels Smedegaard, chief executive of DFDS commented that a sharp fall in revenue over the past two years, mainly due to overcapacity between Britain and Ireland, was the reason for the decision saying:

“It is with deep regret that we close these routes. Despite an impressive effort from employees and a very comprehensive analysis of the market and evaluation of turnaround scenarios we have not succeeded in developing viable solutions for the routes.”

In December DFDS sold their Northern Irish routes, which they inherited when they acquired Norfolkline, to Stena Line who also took over the office facilities and some staff who worked alongside retained DFDS employees whilst keeping their existing conditions of employment.

This latest development will mean more redundancies however and unions claim that ending the two services later this month will result in up to 200 staff being laid off, 140 crew and around 50 shore based employees plus additional cancellations to existing supply contracts. The Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (SIPTU) met with members yesterday and said in a statement they viewed this as a most serious development for the Dublin Port and Docks and its workforce and for the crews and other employees of DFDS.

The union were due to meet today with DFDS officials having described the company as one which paid fair wages and treated its staff well. SIPTU official Ken Fleming said in a statement:

“This decision is a direct result of the policy of over-issuing licences to shipping companies which has resulted in ship owners driving down wages and conditions below the legal minimum wage and safety standards. DFDS and its employees in Ireland appear to be the latest casualty of this race to the bottom.”