Carnival and Nautilus Agree to Work Together on Cunard/P&O Crew Contract

Queen Mary 2 cruise ship
Carnival UK denied reports that it was considering a "fire and rehire" for crew on 10 cruise ships saying it will work with the union on an annual review (file photo)

Published Nov 24, 2023 12:16 PM by The Maritime Executive


Carnival Corporation & plc’s UK group issued a strong denial of the possibility that it would “fire and rehire” crewmembers from 10 of its cruise ships while reports are that the company has also withdrawn a filing with UK authorities. The company’s statement was followed by a joint statement with the UK trade union Nautilus saying the two organizations had committed to work together on proposed contractual changes.

“You may have seen factually inaccurate and misleading media reports today which are causing us significant reputational harm,” a spokesperson for Carnival UK told the British media. “We are categorically not making any redundancies and we will not dismiss and re-engage staff. In fact, we have significantly increased our headcount across our fleet.”

The actions came hours after Nautilus issued a statement calling for the company to engage in discussions and for the government to take actions to prevent future “fire and rehire” actions. The influential union group said it had received a copy of a regulatory filing made to the UK’s Insolvency Service saying the company was starting a consultation period with crew aboard cruise ships manned by its Bermuda subsidiary Fleet Maritime Services.

“This is an annual pay review process with our maritime officers onboard our ships which will ensure alignment. This will empower our staff, deliver the right teams across our fleet, and attract and retain talent to work on our ships,” Carnival UK said in its statement.

The controversy emerged due to a line in the regulatory filing that opened the possibility if agreements were not reached that the company could dismiss and replace crewmembers. The contract covers a total of 10 cruise ships, including seven currently sailing for P&O Cruises and another three sailing for Cunard plus a fourth that is under construction to enter service in 2024.

“Carnival UK have reassured Nautilus International of there being no intent to undertake steps towards dismissal and re-engagement and have rescinded the HR1 form submitted to the Insolvency Service, whilst providing an update the relevant Bermudan authorities,” the companies said in their joint statement.

Nautilus executive officer Martyn Gray commented in a separate statement that the union welcomed the steps by Carnival UK. The union said it looks forward to working with the company to come to a negotiated settlement in the interests of all parties.  

The regulatory filing that sparked the controversy is a required step under UK labor law when an organization is considering changes including layoffs that will impact at least 20 percent of the staff at a location. Companies are also required to undertake a period of consultation with the union regarding proposed changes or layoffs providing 30- to 45-day notice before the changes.