Stena Germanica by HenSti

Corona crisis forces Stena Line to also cut jobs in UK and Ireland

Stena Line plans to furlough 600 employees and make 150 redundant across the UK and the Republic of Ireland due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Jobs had already been cut in Scandinavia, Denmark and the Baltics. So far, no Dutch jobs are at risk, according to a spokesperson.

‘The COVID-19 crisis has meant that Stena Line is experiencing a significant decline in passenger and freight volumes across all its twenty European routes,’ says Ian Hampton, Director, Stena Line. ‘We are having to make some very difficult decisions, that we hoped we would never have to make.’

The company estimates that passenger figures will not recover until well into 2021. As a result, the firm sees no other option than to cut costs.

Furlough and redundancies

The announcement of furlough and redundancies relates to both UK and Ireland shore- and sea-based employees of which there are well over 2000 in total, including those working on vessels on the Irish Sea and North Sea. It follows a reduction of the number of sailings on several routes; several vessels have also been taken out of service.

‘In order to secure the continuity of our freight operations, we have no choice but to reduce our costs,’ adds Hampton. ‘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.’

Everyone on furlough will receive eighty per cent of their salaries. Where UK and Irish government schemes don’t cover the full amount, the remainder will be paid by the firm. With no end to the crisis in sight, Stena Line is planning for the long-term. Consultation on furlough and redundancies will commence today with the trade unions.

On 16 March, Stena Line announced redundancies that will affect 950 people employed in Scandinavia. A number of these employees have since also been furloughed. Further job losses have subsequently been made in Denmark and the Baltics. The company 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.

Job Retention and Wage Subsidy Scheme

In line with the UK’s Job Retention Scheme all employees placed on furlough Leave will receive eighty per cent of their salaries paid by the government capped at £ 2500 per month. However, Stena Line have agreed to maintain all salaries at eighty per cent.

Employees in the Republic of Ireland will receive the Temporary COVID-19 Wage Subsidy Scheme, which provides for up to seventy per cent of wages to a maximum of € 410 per week. Stena says it will also maintain all its Irish employees’ salaries up to eighty per cent.

The British transport union RMT is critical and points out that it is not yet clear that English seafarers are eligible for state aid. ‘Dock and port workers are eligible for state support but we cannot agree to “furlough” for our seafarers when the Government guidance does not give UK seafarers at Stena Line or other major employers clarity on eligibility,’ says RMT General Secretary Mick Cash.

In addition, he points out that ‘the furlough scheme will be retrospective so Stena Line should commit to covering one hundred per cent of wages for everyone affected by today’s announcement, as well as reinstating the company sick pay scheme for all employees.’

No consequences for Dutch employees yet

Speaking on the situation on the North Sea in particular, Carl Mårtensson, PR & Communications Manager at Stena Line, says that currently ‘two RoRo vessels are temporarily in warm lay-up in Rotterdam during April. They are ready to go back in to service, when the market demands it.’

‘Stena Line still sails and keep the vital lines to the UK open, with six vessels and approximately sixty departures per week on the North Sea,’ says Mårtensson. ‘The furlough and redundancies in the UK and Republic of Ireland do not have an effect on Dutch employees, but might include a few UK employees on the vessel Stena Britannica sailing under the UK flag. So there are currently no consequences for Dutch employees.’

The Dutch government has also put measures in place to support companies during the corona crisis. Mårtensson adds that Stena Line is ‘reviewing the Dutch governmental measures for financial support, but we do not have a specific comment about it as of now.’

Picture by HenSti.

Author: Mariska Buitendijk

Mariska Buitendijk is one of SWZ|Maritime's journalists as well as the magazine's copy editor.