Britain closes all “loopholes” in law after mass dismissal of P & O sailors

British Transport Minister Grant Shapps will introduce a new employment law next week to “close all loopholes” and force “U-turns” on the mass dismissal of seafarers by a Dubai-owned ferry company. Said that it would be done. ..

Acquired by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, P & O Ferry fired 800 seafarers on March 17 without prior notice, after which £ 100 million ($ 132 million annually) was fired. ) Caused anger when replacing it with a cheaper agency worker-annual loss.

Peter Hebblethwaite, CEO of P & O, admitted on Thursday to a special committee of the MP that the company deliberately broke the law by deciding not to consult the union. “We are rewarding people entirely and in advance for that decision,” he added.

Hebblethwaite said the new crew is paid an average hourly wage of £ 5.50 ($ 7.25), which is lower than the UK minimum wage of £ 8.91 ($ 11.74), except for domestic routes. He said it was allowed under the rules.

Hebrewswaite said the company’s owner, DP World, will change its business model to the Minister of Transport in November last year, regarding employers’ need to notify appropriate authorities 45 days before dismissal. Insisted.

Epoch Times Photo
Peter Hebblethwaite, Chief Executive Officer of the P & O Ferry, answers questions on March 24, 2022, in front of the House of Commons Transport Committee and the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Selection Committee. (PA Media)

Chaps on Friday told the media that he had heard the news on the day of the mass dismissal in Congress and was informed by his office the night before that there was “another round of redundancy in P & O”. It will be done “through the normal consultation process”.

“Frankly, even if I knew the eve I didn’t know, they were already in breach of the law by not providing 45 days’ notice by using the Cyprus flag to avoid it. “Shaps told the BBC Breakfast.

On Thursday, the House of Commons Transport Commission released the minutes of a meeting between Chaps and DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sreyem last November. According to the minutes, the logistic boss told the Minister of Transport that Irish Ferries had emerged as “raising challenges for P & O operations” and “new low-cost competitors,” but with regard to planned redundancy. Did not mention.

“We’re going to Congress next week with a series of steps to close all possible loopholes and make a U-turn,” Chaps told broadcasters in a media round on Friday.

Mr. Chaps spoke with the BBC Breakfast and spoke with Shadow Secretary of State for Transport Louise Haigh, saying he believed there was a “very broad parliamentary agreement” that a new law was needed.

“There are a variety of things we have to do because of the complexity of maritime law. There is no single process, but we pass different kinds of laws,” he said.

Mr. Chaps said he is preparing packages for “about eight” different measures.

“P & O needs to rehire people with the right salary,” he said, confirming that this means the national minimum wage.

“We only make sure that these loopholes, which they are very, very creative, and rather exploited, are closed in various ways. [sic] they. “

Chaps said of Sky News: “No one works in a British port … between here and France, here and the Netherlands, or [anywhere] Otherwise, and do not pay the minimum wage. It’s just unacceptable and we force it to change. “

He also told Good Morning Britain that the government “flagged their ships in Cyprus to avoid and circumvent British law, not be aware of what they were doing, and not talk to workers. Make sure the law changes to stop them using loopholes like that, “said the union. “

When asked if Hebrewswaite should resign as CEO of the ferry company “immediately,” Chaps told Sky News “yes.” Cole was later endorsed by Downing Street.

Also on Friday, talks between union officials and P & O ended 20 minutes later without agreement.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Association (RMT) said the company’s “discomfort and hostility” was on display at the conference.

P & O Ferry Mick Lynch
Mick Lynch, General Secretary of the Railroad, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), answered questions on March 24, 2022, in front of the Transport Committee and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Selection Committee of the House of Commons in London. .. (House of Commons via PA Media)

Secretary-General Mick Lynch said:

“The meeting was dissolved within 20 minutes because P & O was not ready to change course from the tort of 800 seafarers.

“RMT will continue to seek immediate intervention from the government by all means necessary to force P & O to make U-turns and bring members back.

“We also call on the entire labor movement, the general public, the freight and logistics sector, and the political community to support an immediate and complete boycott of all P & O services.

“British people explain that workplace laws are being followed, that British workers can get stable employment and decent wages, and that P & O workers can get justice in the workplace. And you need to withdraw P & O to confirm. “

The Epoch Times contacted the P & O Ferry for comment.

Alexander Zhang and PA Media contributed to this report.

Lily Chow


Lily Zhou is a freelance writer who mainly covers the British news of The Epoch Times.