Ministers and unions have joined to condemn the mass dismissal of 786 workers by P&O Ferries last week. Workers were told in a three-minute video message last Thursday that they were losing their jobs “effective immediately.” Security forces then boarded to escort the crew off the ships.
P&O, owned by Dubai-based DP World, said the layoffs are critical to ensuring its survival as a “viable business”; Last year P&O posted losses of £100m. Laid off crews were replaced by cheaper foreign agency workers. Ministers said they would look into whether P&O had breached labor laws that require companies to notify Whitehall before making mass redundancies. However, a leaked memo suggested that ministers had indeed been made aware of the plans. On Tuesday, P&O announced it was offering employees an “extended severance package” worth a total of £36.5million.
“P&O Ferries’ dismissal of 800 seafarers was a cold-hearted, brutal act,” he said The guard. The decision – reportedly coming from the top of DP World, owned by Dubai’s ruling family – represents “the unacceptable face of today’s capitalism”. The mass layoffs “are probably not even legal”: P&O failed to meet obligations such as asking employees about their intentions. “The government must not give the green light to such acts.” Ministers should “threaten to end DP World’s two contracts for the new British free ports” “unless P&O backs down”.
“Companies sometimes have to make tough decisions,” he said The times. But that was callous and “unethical.” Yes, business was down during Covid, but P&O pocketed £33m in emergency aid from the UK and its parent company, shipping giant DP World, is awash with cash: Last month it announced record earnings, up 15% to 3.8% billions of dollars have increased. Brexit advocates used to argue that leaving the EU would boost wages by stemming the flow of cheap foreign labour. The P&O case suggests otherwise.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak claimed in a speech last month that markets are “a moral force for good,” James Beattie said in The mirror. Tell that to the people at P&O. No matter how Tory MPs complain about P&O’s misconduct, their party must share the blame for the layoffs. In recent years, she has deliberately weakened labor laws and “given the green light to the worst aspects of capitalism.” Last year, for example, ministers blocked a bill that would have banned exactly the kind of “fire and rehire” methods used by P&O.
James Moore said Boris Johnson promised to make Britain ‘the best place to work in the world’ The Independent. Yet there is still no sign of the Employment Bill promised to protect workers in a post-Brexit world, and ministers have refused to restrict the use of zero-hour contracts. Instead, deregulation now seems to be the order of the day. Welcome to Singapore on the Thames.
The story illustrates “the dangers of globalization,” said Patrick O’Flynn in the Daily express. When owners do not live in “the communities inhabited by their employees,” it becomes easier to “see employees as just another inert factor of production and treat them as such”; Workers’ rights are notoriously scarce in Dubai. Unfortunately, the government’s options are limited. The legal situation is complex (P&O ships are flagged in foreign ports) and Ministers cannot very well ban the company from our ports when it carries 15% of UK freight traffic.
I see some reasons for optimism, Tom Clark said in outlook. If we all avoided P&O Ferries on our holidays – the unions have called for a boycott – it could change attitudes in boardrooms. Moreover, the vociferous condemnation of P&O from both left and right (even Nigel Farage) could be a sign that the “long reign of neoliberalism” is finally drawing to a close. let’s hope so “The tide has been running against working people for too long.”
According to P&O, almost 600 of the laid-off staff are discussing severance offers and 40 staff are up for payouts in excess of £100,000. Workers say they have been warned they will only be paid if they agree not to speak to the media. There are also concerns about a pension scheme for 20,000 current and former British seafarers: P&O Ferries has been revealed to owe around £140m to the Merchant Navy Ratings Pension Fund. P&O shoulders about 30% of the fund’s debt but had deferred contributions due to its weak finances.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/business/956197/what-next-for-po-after-brutal-sackings What’s next for P&O after brutal layoffs?