Following the public outcry over the sudden layoff of 800 P&O Ferries crew members, the company has announced compensation.

The British ferry company has set up a £36.5million (€43million) fund, it said.

The fired crew members are to be paid two and a half months' salary, but at least £15,000.

Around 40 former employees can receive £100,000, some even £170,000 - depending on the length of their service.

The ship's employees were released a week ago without any warning and led off the ship by security guards, some of whom were handcuffed.

Philip Pickert

Business correspondent based in London.

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This approach had triggered sharp criticism.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of P&O Ferries in Parliament on Wednesday that "it seems to me that the company has broken the law".

Opposition leader Keir Starmer (Labour) chastised that "loyal British workers were zoomed out and immediately replaced by foreign agency workers earning less than minimum wage".

Some politicians are calling for government corona aid to be reclaimed.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps spoke of a possible customer boycott against P&O Ferries, which operates the ferry services between Dover and Calais and Liverpool and Dublin, among other things.

£100m loss in 2021

The image damage is enormous for P&O Ferries and the parent company DP World from Dubai, which also operates two of the largest freight terminals in Great Britain, London Gateway and Southampton.

P&O justified the redundancies with a £100million loss last year.

Without the decision, all 3,000 jobs at the company would have been at risk.

DP World bought P&O Ferries in 2019 for £322m.

The company, which is majority-owned by the emirate's ruling family, says it has invested nearly £2 billion in Britain over a decade and plans to invest further.

The PR disaster surrounding P&O doesn't help.

The unions are advising the fired crew members not to accept the offer while they consider legal action.

New cheap crews from India, Indonesia or the Philippines are being hired, according to the RMT union.

Some reports spoke of extreme dumping wages of £1.80 an hour without providing any evidence.

P&O rejected the dumping allegation and emphasized that the new crews were well trained and would meet all safety standards.

Chief Executive Peter Hebblethwaite wrote that the reaction to the layoffs had been "very negative as expected" but he now hopes the storm is over.