Hundreds of Stena Line staff in the UK and Ireland are being furloughed or made redundant due to the impact of coronavirus.
The Swedish-owned ferry company plans to furlough 600 employees with 150 redundancies across the UK and Ireland.
The “urgent measure” was described as an “unavoidable response” to the on-going global Covid-19 crisis, which has had a hugely damaging effect on travel and transport across Europe.
Stena Line pledged to ensure those furloughed maintain 80% of salaries as part of government employee support schemes.
The company announced 950 redundancies in Scandinavia in the middle of March. A number of these employees have since also been furloughed.
Further job losses have subsequently been made in Denmark and the Baltics.
Stena Line is evaluating its operations in all regions “and does not rule out that there could be further furlough, redundancy or changes to its current sailing schedules or routes”.
The furloughs and redundancies cover both UK and Ireland employees, including those working on vessels on the Irish Sea and North Sea.
It follows a reduction of the number of sailings on several routes while several ferries have also been taken out of service.
A large decline in travel bookings and freight volumes has forced “tough decisions” to make cost cuts to ensure vital supply lines of essential goods to the UK and Ireland are protected, according to the company.
It is estimated that passenger figures will not recover until well into 2021.
With no end to the crisis in sight, Stena Line said it is planning for the long-term.
Consultation on furlough and redundancies started on Monday with trade unions.
Everyone on furlough will receive 80% of their salaries, the company pledged.
Where UK and Irish government schemes do not cover the full amount, the remainder will be paid by the firm.
Furlough will also be used to help vulnerable employees, such those that need to self-isolate due to underlying health conditions, those that are pregnant, and where possible, those with caring responsibilities due to Covid-19.
Stena Line director Ian Hampton said: “The Covid-19 crisis has meant that Stena Line is experiencing a significant decline in passenger and freight volumes across all its 20 European routes.
“We are having to make some very difficult decisions, that we hoped we would never have to make.”
He added: “In order to secure the continuity of our freight operations, we have no choice but to reduce our costs.
“We are committed to keep vital supply lines open for UK and Ireland.
“Regrettably, we must furlough employees on temporary paid leave and make redundancies, as we adjust to this new reality.
“We will do everything in our means to ensure essential supply lines stay operational during what is a very difficult time for the company and the countries that we serve.”
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