Thank you to those who have contacted me about P&O Ferries’ decision to fire 800 workers without notice. While this is not a local issue, it represents a key breach of employment rights and understandably has led to widespread public outrage.
Last week, allegations from Trade Unions surfaced that P&O Ferries would be replacing those who were fired with cheaper labourers, amid announcements from the company that the firings were necessary to keep the firm afloat. P&O are said to be offering the redundant staff £36.5 million in total, with around 40 getting more that £100,000 each, however they have denied that they have broken the law.
Today, the Prime Minister has announced that he believes the company have in fact broken the law, and will therefore be taking action against P&O Ferries. He also encouraged the workers themselves to take action under the 1996 Employment Rights Act.
While I welcome this decision, I am concerned the Government’s efforts to protect workers’ rights following the P&O scandal were, and continue to be, half-hearted. I echo the comments made by Keir Starmer in PMQs, where he criticised Boris Johnson and the Government’s failure to ban the practice of fire and rehire last year, and attention was drawn to the amount of public money that has been given to P%O and its Dubai-based parents company DP World, in government contracts.
As a former Trade Union representative, I strongly believe that the Government must do more to protect the employment rights of workers in this country.