P&O Ferries: Calls on government for ‘criminal action’ amid ’embarrassing’ shock shots last week | british news

Labor has called on the government to take “criminal action” against P&O Ferries after the company laid off more than 800 of its workers locally last week.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the government must “immediately” take criminal action against… P&O Ferries “for their flagrant violation of labor law”.

“It should mean unlimited fines not only for the company but also for directors and managers or any of those who are complicit,” Ms Haigh added, stressing that Work will force an emergency vote on the issue later today.

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P&O Ferries informed staff on Thursday that they are losing their jobs due to efforts to cut crew costs in half

In response to Labour’s urgent question about the matter in the House of Commons, Grant Shapps confirmed that P&O Ferries could face criminal charges and unlimited fines for handling the dismissal of his workers

“It’s pretty clear that the company has handled it absolutely disastrously, so we’ve asked the Insolvency Service to look into the reporting requirements and consider whether further action is appropriate – especially if, as far as we’re concerned, the relevant notice periods were not given, the relative consultation did not take place,” said the transport secretary.

“And I can inform the House that that is also a matter for criminal prosecution and unlimited fines.”

Labor is calling for all contracts with P&O Ferries owners DP World to be suspended until the issue is resolved.

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Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh says P&O Ferries’ actions are a ‘national scandal’.

Government assesses contracts with P&O Ferries and DP World

Mr Shapps also confirmed that the government is reviewing all contracts it has with both P&O Ferries and parent company DP World in the wake of the shocking layoffs.

“The way these 800 loyal and experienced employees were treated by P&O Ferries last week was shameful and completely unacceptable,” the transport secretary said.

“Of course we understand the financial pressures that many companies are currently facing and unfortunately and sometimes layoffs are inevitable, but there is no excuse, no excuse for what we saw happen last Thursday.”

Read more: Koppel marched after 31 years of service ‘as criminals’ of P&O ship

He continued: “For our part, we are urgently reviewing all government contracts with P&O Ferries and with DP World and, where possible, we are looking at other providers if there are indeed contracts involving the UK government; I believe at this point they are more likely to historical in nature than were current.

“We are considering further steps we can take to remove P&O Ferries’ influence from the UK maritime sector, including positions on advisory boards, as again I do not want that company, with the way management has behaved, to advise on the way British maritime is shaping and rolling out.”

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Armed Forces Secretary James Heappey calls P&O Ferries ‘sloppy’ and ‘disgraceful’.

Shapps: Staff images ‘very disturbing’

Mr Shapps added that he first learned of the situation “at approximately 8.30pm” through a communication with his private office stating that “P&O would be taking layoffs the following day”.

He told MPs “it was very disturbing” to see the images of staff being forcibly removed from ferries last week.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) trade union, which represented many of the 800 employees who were laid off without noticehas claimed that replacement crews are paid less than minimum wage.

The RMT has claimed that Indian seafarers hired to replace laid-off crews from P&O Ferries receive the equivalent of just £1.81 an hour.

The minimum wage in the UK for people aged 23 and over is £8.91 per hour.

But companies using British ports often register ships in other countries, allowing them to pay lower wages.

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P&O Ferries has resumed limited service without notice two days after the layoff of 800 crew members in what it says is a cost-saving exercise.

Ship safety questions

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been ordered to inspect all P&O ferries to ensure the new crews are “safe and properly trained”, Mr Shapps told MPs in the House of Commons.

“While I am pleased that P&O plans to resume ferry operations this week, shipping safety remains a top priority and therefore staff must be experienced and trained to maintain the highest possible standards, as the interventions suggested.”

P&O Ferries hit back at claims by unions that the decision to replace staff with temporary workers would jeopardize ship safety.

A company spokesperson said: “Safety is a top priority for P&O Ferries and our crewing management partners.

“They have recruited experienced, quality seafarers who will now familiarize themselves with the ships and go through all the mandatory training requirements set out by our regulators.

“Safety is paramount in our new crew management model, used by many of our competitors and proven to be the industry’s most successful model and competitive baseline.

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P&O Ferries staff say they are “shocked” after being terminated with immediate effect by a recorded video.

Protesters gather to march to parliament

P&O Ferries informed staff on Thursday that they are losing their jobs over efforts to cut crew costs in half.

There have been no sailings since that date.

Protesters gathered outside the London offices of P&O Ferries owner DP World on Monday afternoon, before marching to parliament.

The company has not commented on the wages of temporary workers, but posted on Twitter Monday morning that the services will be suspended “for the next few days”.

The Ministry of Transport said: “Ministers and officials have expressed outrage and frustration with P&O Ferries at their decision and handling of their announcement, and are closely considering the Ministry’s relationship with the company.

“The transportation secretary has ordered a full review of all government contracts with P&O Ferries and DP World, and the department is working closely with unions, the Department of Work and Pensions and industry associations to ensure workers are supported and forwarded to the most relevant support.

“We are very concerned that their handling may not have followed proper and legal procedures and urge P&O Ferries to pause the announced changes and speak with employees to repair the damage caused.”

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