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Trust tries to recruit sacked P&O ferry staff

Published on: 28 Mar 2022

A trust is holding virtual recruitment sessions in a bid to attract staff sacked by P&O.

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust — Kent’s main mental health provider — is holding sessions this week and next for former P&O staff to “talk about our available roles and support people to apply quickly and easily”.

P&O sacked 800 workers on its ferry routes, including the short crossing route between Dover and Calais, on 17 March, planning to replace them with cheaper agency workers from overseas paid less than the UK minimum wage.

The sackings have caused a political storm, with the government threatening to change the law so that all ferry companies operating from UK ports have to pay at least the minimum wage, but there is no sign of the company backing down.

In a statement, KMPT said: “We have a wide range of service and clinical roles in Dover and across our sites in Kent and Medway that are currently available and in the pipeline to recruit for. Roles include hotel service operators, porters, gardeners, maintenance assistants, PAs, recruitment officers and assistant psychologists.

“We’re aware that former P&O Ferries staff may have a wide range of transferable skills and possibly previous experience of working in a clinical setting or even perhaps degrees in psychology, for instance. With this in mind, we wanted to offer the opportunity to talk with people in these sessions, and individually, about their own skills and background to see how we can help marry them with our roles.

“For instance, if some have a degree in psychology, they could make excellent STR [support, time and recovery] workers or assistant psychologists. By providing virtual support sessions, our recruitment team hope to quickly assess how we can support anyone at this time.”

The trust’s latest board papers show it has been running with around 420 vacancies for the last two years. The vacancy gap last month was over 15 per cent, leading to reliance on agency staff.

Mersey Care Foundation Trust is also encouraging P&O staff from Liverpool — one of the ferry terminals affected — to consider applying for jobs.