900+ Staff Safe as Carnival UK Ends Fire-Rehire Plan

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Carnival Corp’s UK division has pledged not to fire and rehire hundreds of shipboard staff following criticism by a maritime union. 

P&O Cruises Iona
Iona (Photo courtesy of P&O Cruises)

Carnival UK, which operates cruise brands Cunard and P&O Cruises, said it would remove the contentious conditions in contract negotiations with the Nautilus union.

Union: Fire and rehire option would have cut pay by 20%

Nautilus had revealed the fire and rehire option if talks on new terms and conditions were unsuccessful. The union said it would potentially lead to a salary cut of about 20% for over 900 staff on its 10 UK-based ships.

The UK Insolvency Service, which has to be notified of potential mass redundancies, was supplied with a document stating that “dismissal and re-engagement may be considered if agreement cannot be reached on new terms.”

cunard kennels dogs
(Photo courtesy of Cunard/Christopher Ison)

Carnival UK has withdrawn this after talks with union officials on Friday. They issued a joint statement: “Following discussions, both parties are committed to engaging in meaningful consultation on proposed contractual changes for 919 maritime professionals.”

The company said the HR1 form, originally containing the critical fire and rehire language, is a legal obligation in the UK for major labor contract negotiations. The affected workers are employed via Carnival’s Bermuda-based employment firm.

Carnival UK, union committed to ‘negotiated settlement’

Union chief Martyn Gray welcomed the change of heart from Carnival UK. “We thank them for their commitment to not dismiss and re-engage and look forward to a negotiated settlement.”

The move initially raised major red flags following the notorious fire and rehire actions of P&O Ferries, a separate business unrelated to P&O Cruises. 

In this case, it fired 800 workers without notice through a video message, causing a scandal. They were then, via a loophole, replaced by agency staff on wages barely above 50% of the national minimum wage. In a parliamentary committee hearing in 2022, the P&O Ferries’ CEO admitted to knowingly violating labor laws.

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