Tag Archives: DP World

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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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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