Category Archives: Employment

Brexit-caused employment problems leave firms struggling to fill vacancies

Not working: okay, it isn’t quite the right image – unless you think of the trucks all being full of migrant workers returning to their countries of origin – but the message that “Brexit isn’t working” is supported very strongly by the findings listed in the article.

Are these results of Brexit the “sunlit uplands” we were told to expect in the UK economy after leaving the European Union?

Brexit has exacerbated the UK’s labour shortages over the past year, with industries most reliant on freedom of movement hit hard, according to a report led by academics from Oxford university.

The research found that in parts of the economy such as hospitality and corporate support services there had been large declines in the number of EU workers, a substantial rise in vacancies and few opportunities for employers to recruit from non-EU countries.

The academics found no evidence that employers had responded by raising wages to attract UK-born workers to fill the roles previously occupied by people born in the bloc.

So low-wage industries are having trouble recruiting, and won’t increase wages to relieve that pressure.

But increasing the number of visas available to get people from foreign countries back into jobs here won’t work, it seems, because they are difficlt to police and may open workers to exploitation and abuse.

The Tory government – via the Home Office – has stuck its head in the sand, as usual.

It has said employers should look to the domestic labour market rather than foreign recruitment, incentivising people to take jobs with higher wages, training and career options.

But employers have clearly decided not to even try. What’s ‘Plan B’?

Source: Brexit intensifies labour shortages as companies struggle to hire

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Government department cancels P&O contract over mass sackings

Moored: P&O ferries were subjected to safety checks – which many failed – after foreign agency workers on less than the minimum wage were hired to replace illegally-sacked UK staff.

It’s extremely rare that This Site gets to praise the government for doing something right.

So let’s give credit where it’s due to the civil servants at the Home Office and Department of Transport, who have cancelled a contract with P&O Ferries over the company’s decision to sack around 800 UK-based employees and replace them with agency workers from abroad, paid less than the minimum wage.

Border Force has terminated its agreement with P&O to provide contingency travel services to juxtaposed ports – UK border controls set up in Calais, Dunkirk and some railway stations in France and Belgium, where goods and passengers are checked ahead of travel.

The contract was to transport border staff to northern France if there was a problem at the Channel Tunnel and was the DoT’s only deal with P&O.

But the government has also awarded P&O’s owner, DP World, contracts to run two so-called Free Ports. Some of us have been waiting for those contracts to be cancelled ever since the unannounced (and therefore illegal) mass sackings happened in March.

If all contracts with this rogue company and its parent aren’t killed, then the Tories are effectively supporting the illegal removal of UK workers from their jobs.

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With more job vacancies than seekers: if employers can’t pay, TAKE YOURSELF AWAY!

What you’re worth: with more jobs available than workers, you’re doing employers a favour if you decide to work for them. MAKE SURE THEY PAY YOU PROPERLY FOR IT.

Official figures are telling us there are more job vacancies than people looking for work – for the first time since records began.

So why aren’t employers paying enough for their staff to survive?

This Writer remembers a moment, back when I was looking for my first newspaper job. I called up for an interview and the guy on the phone asked me if I could make the following Monday (or whenever).

“Oh,” said I. “I’ve got another interview then. How about another time?”

“Too bad!” said he, and rang off – because so many people were looking for work then that employers could afford to treat people like dirt.

(I got the other job, though – and it was better-paid.)

Now the tables are turned. Jobseekers can afford to treat poor-paying bosses like dirt for a change.

So, work out how much you need to earn in order to live comfortably, and when you go to that job interview, make sure they pay it to you.

Because if they can’t (or, more probably, won’t), then they’ll have to do without your expertise.

And their company will probably collapse due to the lack of it…

… like the newspaper whose editor couldn’t be bothered to give me a mutually-convenient interview!

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The Tory Bill for workers’ rights – just another Boris Johnson lie?

The Tory two-fingered salute: this time it’s for working people across the UK who thought the lying Boris Johnson was ever going to offer them a fair deal.

Simple answer: it’s what they do.

Unions and industry groups were incensed earlier this week when they discovered that the Tory government has not included an Employment Bill to protect workers’ rights in plans for the new Parliamentary session.

Why were they so upset?

Because the Tories had promised it, that’s why!

Boris Johnson had responded to concerns that workers’ rights could be watered down after the UK left the EU, and worries about treatment of employees in the gig economy with a pledge to enshrine rights in law. That was in 2019.

Since then, nothing.

According to the BBC,

When first announced, the bill had promised:

  • the creation of a single enforcement body, offering greater protections for workers
  • making sure that tips left for workers go to them in full
  • all workers would have the right to ask for a more predictable contract
  • redundancy protections would be extended to prevent pregnancy and maternity discrimination
  • parents allowed to take extended leave for neonatal care
  • entitlement to one week’s leave for unpaid carers
  • subject to consultation, the bill also proposed making flexible working the default unless employers have good reason not to.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the lack of the Employment Bill in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech meant “vital rights that ministers had promised – like default flexible working, fair tips and protection from pregnancy discrimination – risk being ditched for good”.

She claimed ministers had “sent a signal that they are happy for rogue employers to ride roughshod over workers’ rights,” adding it would see “bad bosses celebrating”.

She’s not wrong!

But then, working people and their representatives were wrong ever to believe that Boris Johnson and his gang of asset-strippers and exploiters would ever legislate to ensure proper treatment for them.

In short, it seems clear that the promise of an Employment Bill was another Boris Johnson lie. We should have treated it as such from the start.

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P&O boss calls Shapps’s bluff; what consequences will the firm face?

Grounded: P&O Ferries are being held in dock after failing government safety checks. What other penalties, can Grant Shapps devise for the firm until it delivers an equitable deal for its wrongly-sacked workers.

P&O Ferries boss Peter Hebblethwaite has refused to rehire 800 UK staff after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned him to take them back or face “consequences”.

Shapps’s bluff has been called. What is he going to do?

Shapps has already said the government is reviewing all its contracts with P&O Ferries and its parent firm, ports operator DP World. It’s hard to see how he could justify continuing any of those contracts in the face of this continuing defiance of the law.

And it has already grounded several ships after they failed safety checks.

Hebblethwaite knew before he embarked on the mass sacking that he had not informed the government of his intention to carry it out in the legally necessary time period.

But he has insisted that his decisions – and the illegal way he has carried them out – were the only way to save the firm, as it was losing £100 million per year.

If he were to reverse the sackings, he has said, then the whole company would have to be dissolved, with the loss of a further 2,200 jobs.

It’s a test of character for the Tory government.

Boris Johnson’s cronies have had no problem with hitting down at society’s most vulnerable people.

But now they are faced with a large employer, defiantly saying it is going to do whatever it wants.

Will the government have the courage to treat Hebblethwaite the same as any other lawbreaker? Or will it cave in to Big Money, as usual?

Source: P&O boss refuses to reinstate 800 sacked staff as row with Government escalates

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Is UK government creating problems for itself by detaining a P&O ferry?

Moored: P&O ferries in harbour. It seems that’s exactly where the UK government wants them to stay.

This is potentially problematic. What’s to stop P&O from complaining that the firm is being victimised by the government because of the way it sacked 800 workers – and that the Tories are trying to run it out of business as a result?

A P&O Ferries ship has been detained in Northern Ireland over safety concerns.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the European Causeway passenger boat had been held in Larne over multiple issues.

The MCA said there had been “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training”.

Unions have raised concerns over a lack of experience of new crew, introduced after 800 of the firm’s staff were sacked eight days ago.

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Johnson’s call for P&O boss to quit after illegally sacking workers could backfire on him

It makes perfect sense. If P&O has sacked 800 workers because UK employment law made them the easiest to ditch, why shouldn’t their British boss go with them?

The prime minister has backed calls for the boss of P&O Ferries to resign over the no-notice sackings of 800 staff.

Boris Johnson supported Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in urging Peter Hebblethwaite to step down after his “brazen” law breaking, No 10 said.

He admitted to MPs that he broke the law by not consulting workers but said he would do the same again if he had to.

Mr Hebblethwaite prompted further anger when he told the transport committee P&O “did choose not to consult” on the move and “did not believe there was any other way to do this”.

Of course, Boris Johnson has painted himself into a corner now.

By saying a boss should resign for breaking the law, he’ll be a hypocrite if he refuses to do the same, should police fine him for breaking lockdown rules and attending any of the now-infamous Downing Street parties.

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Tories review all contracts with P&O Ferries and DP World over 800 axed jobs

Amazingly, the UK’s Conservative government is actually doing the right thing – so far!

The government is reviewing all its contracts with both P&O Ferries and parent company DP World after the shock firings of 800 staff over Zoom – exactly as This Site demanded over the weekend.

I didn’t believe a Tory government would actually do it. Even though it hasn’t happened yet, I am forced to applaud Grant Shapps (Transport Secretary) for putting the contracts at risk:

“For our part we’re reviewing all Government contracts with P&O Ferries as a matter of urgency and with DP World and, where possible, we’re looking to use other providers if indeed there are any contracts where the UK Government is involved; I believe at this point that they have been historic in nature rather than current,” Shapps said.

Not only that, but Shapps went further. He said the companies could face criminal prosecution and unlimited fines:

“It’s been quite clear that it’s been handled by the company absolutely disastrously, which is why we’ve asked the Insolvency Service to look at the notification requirements and consider if further action is appropriate – especially if, as we’re concerned, the relevant notice periods weren’t given, the relative consultation didn’t take place,” Shapps said.

“And I can inform the House that that would be a matter for criminal prosecution and unlimited fines as well,” he added.

And he said he was taking steps to remove the companies from influencing UK maritime affairs:

“We’re considering further steps we can take to remove P&O Ferries’ influence from British maritime, including positions on any advisory boards because again I don’t want to see that company, with the way the management has behaved, advising the way that British maritime is shaped and rolls out.”

Safety checks have been ordered on P&O ships – and they will be blocked from sailing if they fail.

And there are concerns that new agency workers from India are being paid just £1.80 per hour, although P&O has said this is not true.

Source: Transport secretary urges P&O Ferries to repair damages or face ‘unlimited fines’ over shock sackings – upday News UK

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Things we’re not likely to see: Tories cancelling P&O owners Free Ports contract

Moored: P&O ferries – and contracts offered to the firm’s operator, DP World – should be mothballed until reparations are made to the 800 workers they have wronged.

Remember This Site’s article on March 19, where I stated that any UK business in a position to do so should find a way to penalise P&O ferries’ owner DP World for the sacking without notice of 800 UK-based employees?

I should have included the government, of course – and isn’t it providential that the UK’s Tory government has awarded DP World two contracts to run Free Ports. On that subject, This Writer agrees with David Osland, below:

Any organisation that treats the people of the UK with contempt should not receive financial rewards of any kind from the UK government. That should be among the most basic conditions of forming a government.

Tory-voting ex-employees of P&O may have been surprised to see their struggle being spearheaded, not by Boris Johnson, but by Jeremy Corbyn:

His argument is a good one. So next week we should see the UK’s Tory government cancelling these two contracts – right?

Well, maybe not. This government runs on greed, and we don’t know what, if anything, was offered to ministers in return for these “lucrative” deals.

So: don’t hold your breath waiting.

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P&O owners should face consequences for ‘one of the most shameful acts in UK industrial relations’

Moored: P&O ferries in harbour – and that’s where they should stay until the firm – and its parent organisation, DP World – sorts out fair treatment for the 800 UK staff they illegally sacked without notice.

There’s no question that the mass sacking of 800 UK citizens working for P&O ferries was illegal.

The RMT union has described it as “one of the most shameful acts in British industrial relations”.

And it is: 800 workers were told their contracts had been terminated and were escorted off their ships by handcuff-trained, balaclava-wearing security guards, to be replaced by cheaper, agency workers.

The sacking of P&O’s entire UK seafaring staff without notice is contrary to even this country’s lax employment laws, because they demand that any employer planning to sack more than 100 staff must give ministers 45 days’ notice – and the government was not told about the plan at all.

If the government had been told, it would have been able to act on behalf of the workers, either to get better conditions of release, or to find alternative employment for them, or both. That can’t happen now.

Considering these circumstances, it seems clear that P&O’s behaviour is an act of intentional harm to its loyal staff.

Yes, there have been demonstrations of protest – but these have been hamstrung by the Tory government’s own support of “fire-and-rehire” practices that force workers to accept worse pay and conditions so bosses can profit.

Natalie Elphicke was caught out by this at a demo in Dover:

Apparently Labour’s John McDonnell was also there – but his party leader, Keir Starmer, is also a (covert) fan of “fire-and-rehire” because he decided that the money problems he created for himself meant he had to fire around 90 staff, then take on 50 again on short-term contracts.

Protests are fine but direct action is better.

This Writer would certainly advise anyone who has booked passage on a P&O ferry to cancel and seek alternative provision.

I would advise anyone using P&O to carry freight to do the same.

The company is owned by a Dubai-based corporation – port operator DP World. Any UK business in a position to do so should find a way to penalise that organisation too.

Back in the day, the government would have sent gunboats to blockade their ports but our spineless, mendacious Tories wouldn’t dream of doing anything so bold.

The only successful way to negotiate with these people is to attack their profits.

Otherwise they get away with it.

Source: ‘Scandalous betrayal’: MPs condemn P&O Ferries for mass sacking of 800 staff | Travel & leisure | The Guardian

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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

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