Nearly 60 jobs lost at council-owned port firm MMD Shipping in Portsmouth

DOZENS of jobs are under the axe at Portsmouth port after the loss of a major contract.

Thursday, 11th January 2018, 3:53 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th January 2018, 5:05 pm
MMD Shipping

Cargo handling firm MMD Shipping, owned by Portsmouth City Council, has announced 58 job losses after Geest Line revealed last Friday it would move to Dover.

Now Mike Sellers, MMD director, has said it intends to lose the jobs and cut working hours after losing the contract.

Mr Sellers said that servicing Geest Line’s work was ‘labour intensive’ but that MMD has ‘the opportunity to secure new business’ in the future but would not need the same number of people to do the work.

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Mike Sellers from MMD Shipping

A formal consultation with unions starts on Monday.

Mr Sellers said: ‘Following Geest Line’s decision to move their cargo operation to Dover, we have looked at the impact on the company.

‘While Geest Line is not MMD’s only major customer, their move does leave us in a position where very regrettably we have to look at reducing the workforce.

‘Servicing a Geest Line vessel is very labour intensive so we have unfortunately had to make staff aware of proposals for 58 job losses.

Mike Sellers from MMD Shipping

‘In order to minimise further redundancies we are also proposing changes to working hours, with a view that these could increase when new business is secured.

‘It is very regrettable that we have to make this announcement and it’s testament to the hard work of everyone at MMD that Geest Line would have preferred to stay in Portsmouth.

‘Sadly with two other vessels committed to Geest Line’s new day, we couldn’t practically or safely accommodate this change.

‘The shipping industry is changing and we have the opportunity to secure new business in the future, however the nature of the cargo while profitable does not necessarily require the same level of manpower as previous contracts.

‘At this stage we begin formal consultation week commencing Monday 15 January, this will last 30 days.’

As reported, Geest said it would move to Dover as it is bringing in five new ships on a Friday arrival, which Portsmouth cannot provide.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Lib Dem opposition at the city council, said: ‘It’s incredibly disappointing for the city and the port to lose this business and incredibly disappointing for 58 families losing their bread winner.

‘I’m sure the port will work hard to try to bring in more trade but it’s very disappointing.

‘Last year we lost a big cruise line as well from coming into the port.’

He said any loss in MMD’s profits would hit the council as the cash is used to subsidise council services.