The news that ferry firm Stena Line is to furlough 600 employees and make 150 redundant across Britain and Ireland has been described as “deeply worrying” by South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour Transport Spokesperson Colin Smyth.

The company employs about 2,500 people in the UK and Ireland, including a total of 950 staff on its sailings from Northern Ireland to Liverpool, Heysham and Cairnryan near Stranraer in South West Scotland.

Colin Smyth said: “This announcement is deeply worrying for Stena’s workforce at Cairnryan. I know from my discussions with Stena that initially passenger numbers and freight movements did hold up better than maybe could have been expected between Cairnryan and Belfast.

“At the beginning, many people were relocating before the lockdown and freight was doing well due to higher demand in our supermarkets, so a full service was running. However, this downturn has been coming.

“I had hoped the company could have furloughed workers rather than moved to any redundancies, so job losses are a real blow to the economy and my thoughts are very much with any staff affected and their families.

“With no end in sight for the Covid-19 pandemic and a long road back for companies, we need to brace ourselves for the possibility that there could be more job losses on the way.

“It hammers home again that the economic support from Government is simply not going to scratch the surface of the economic tsunamis hitting the region in the weeks and months ahead and more will be required if the local economy is to avoid collapse.

“This needs to be a wakeup call to both the Scottish and UK Governments that our area needs action to save jobs now.”

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