P&O in the dock as the firm set a 5pm deadline to explain layoffs Tories knew about
It’s P&O D-Day as the heartless firm has until 5pm on Tuesday to explain the mass layoffs of 800 staff and Labor offers to ban ‘fire and reinstate’… but the Tories knew of the scandalous plans first
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P&O chiefs have until 5pm tomorrow to explain their decision to lay off 800 crew members.
Ministers believe P&O may have broken the law by failing to follow “clear rules” for sacking staff.
It turns out that Wednesday ministers knew what P&O was up to but didn’t act.
Labor will try to force a vote on banning ‘Fire and Rehire’ on Monday night.
Shadow Transport Minister Louise Haigh said: “Labour will fight every step of the way.”
P&O Ferries face legal action if there are no satisfactory answers to 10 questions about the 800 seafarers’ redundancy by tomorrow’s 5pm deadline.
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Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said the information provided by P&O would “inform the next steps” but could lead to a “formal complaint to the relevant law enforcement agency”.
P&O Ferries has replaced seafarers with cheaper agency staff, some for as little as £1.80 an hour, it has been claimed.
Its ferries are registered to Cyprus, the Bahamas and Holland, the RMT says. This could mean some foreign crews are not protected by UK labor law, which imposes a minimum wage of £8.91 an hour.
Karl Turner, Labor MP for Hull East, has claimed Filipino crew on the P&O service Pride of Rotterdam to Holland were paid just £1.80 an hour.
Mike Lynch, general secretary of the RMT union, said the practice of “flags of convenience” had led to “widespread exploitation”.
He said: “That’s one of the reasons we used to have 100,000 seafarers in the country, but now we’re lucky to have 9,000.
“It’s a race to the bottom.”
He urged ministers to take control of P&O’s ferries.
He said, “If they don’t obey the law, they should take control of these ships and put our people back to work and be the last resort.”
Department of Transportation officials were briefed on Wednesday about P&O’s plan to replace employees who were fired in a Zoom call on Thursday.
The Sunday Times revealed that ministers were told the redundancies would ensure that P&O “remains a major player in the UK market through restructuring for years to come”.
The Department for Transport said the memo “outlined what officials had been told by P&O”. Barely informed, the ministers “made their outrage clear”.
In a letter to P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite on Friday, Mr Kwarteng wrote: “Failure to report is a criminal offense and can result in an unlimited fine.”
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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called the dismissals a “sin”.
As P&O departures were suspended for a third day, Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC yesterday: “The way they have treated their workers is terrible, it is wrong.
“Not only do we review these measures and whether they comply with the regulations, but also our own relationship with the company.”
P&O did not respond to Der Spiegel’s questions.
DP World, the Dubai-based owner of P&O Ferries, has been asked to plug a £150million hole in its pension scheme, money said to be owed to the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/jobs/po-dock-firm-given-5pm-26515439 P&O in the dock as the firm set a 5pm deadline to explain layoffs Tories knew about