P&O fiasco is lesson in ‘spreadsheet thinking’ gone wrong

Sustainability requires a long-term approach, says LBS’ Dan Cable

Ferries 1140 by 346

P&O Ferries has lurched from one PR disaster to another since it sacked 800 experienced British workers without warning in mid-March and replaced them with cheaper, less experienced agency staff. Since then ships have been grounded due to safety reasons, one ship was adrift in the Irish Sea for over an hour as a result of mechanical failure and several of the newly appointed crew members were sacked for drinking on the job.

To make matters worse for the embattled ferry operator – hauled over the coals by UK politicians for choosing not to consult with the union before making such a large number of employees redundant and for paying less than the UK minimum wage to its new recruits – a number of agency staff subsequently raised concerns that P&O Ferries was trying to cut their wages even further, hitting the brand’s damaged reputation even harder. The fall-out from the company’s ill-thought-through attempts to make the business viable for the future has been nothing short of toxic.

Professor Dan Cable views the whole sorry fiasco as an example of “spreadsheet thinking” gone wrong. In an article for Forbes he explains why having a long-term view matters and why it pays to do redundancy well.