The Unite union has accused DFDS of using Covid-19 as an excuse to make dozens of redundancies in its Immingham workforce and reduce overtime rates, potentially affecting freight routes.

The union said the plan to cut 62 jobs from the 600-strong workforce were unnecessary given steadily increasing freight volumes.

In June, DFDS said it would cull around 86 UK warehousing and logistics jobs as part of major cutbacks across the company as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with 650 jobs to go across DFDS’ entire European operations.

At the time, MD Andrew Byrne said DFDS had experienced a dramatic drop in passenger numbers, freight volumes and terminal activity.

He said: “We are facing a world with less freight and fewer passengers to carry.

“Consequently, we are adapting our structure, staff and costs to the business that will emerge from Covid-19.”

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Unite said that as well as the redundancies, DFDS also wanted to cut overtime rates from time-and-a-half to basic and implement other measures that will negatively impact hours, shift patterns and pay for workers on hourly wages.

The company operates both freight and automotive shipping routes between a number of European ports and Immingham.

Mike Wilkinson, Unite regional officer said: “DFDS Seaways is using Covid-19 as an excuse to cut jobs and make brutal attacks on its Immingham workforce’s terms and conditions.

“While many companies have rewarded their staff for working through the lockdown, DFDS at Immingham has chosen instead to punish its employees with redundancies and pay cuts.

“We consider this action by the company to be grossly unfair and opportunism of the worst kind.

“DFDS’ work volume at Immingham has increased steadily since operations were disrupted in April so there is no reason to enact such severe and draconian measures.”

DFDS did not respond.