THIS WEEK IN 1986: Ferries merger costs 500 jobs

The Sealink ferry Earl Granville leaving Portsmouth Harbour bound for Cherbourg

Sealink announced major cuts to its Channel Islands services – and nearly 500 redundancies – in a bid to compete with cut-price airlines.

It ended its service and launched a new independent ferry company jointly with Portsmouth-based Channel Island Ferries.

The 650-strong workforce was told the news the same day, but National Union of Seamen spokesman, Frank Welsh, said his union was prepared to fight the cuts – even if it meant balloting for an all-out national strike.

‘Sealink bosses are talking about offering £1,000 redundancy pay for every year worked, but we are not fighting for money, we are fighting for jobs,’ said Mr Welsh.

Before this, Sealink and Channel Island Ferries were in direct competition, but they combined to fight the threat from cheap air fares to the Island.

The three ships that operated from Portsmouth were cut to two – the Earl Granville and the Earl

Harold – and the service from the city to the islands via Cherbourg was abandoned.

More than 25 shore staff in Portsmouth lost their jobs, and the Southampton office shut with 35 redundancies.

It was not known exactly how many would go as a result of one of the ships being taken out of service, but Sealink estimated it would have to pay about £6m in redundancy money.

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