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Former Maritime Minister Calls For "Criminal Sanctions" Against P&O After Mass-Sackings

P&O have faced heavy criticism for sacking 800 workers

3 min read

Nus Ghani, the Conservative former maritime minister has called for the "full weight of the law" to be used against ferry operator P&O after they sacked 800 staff last week.

Writing for The House, Ghani said the decision showed a "staggering disregard for the law" as she called for the government to introduce further protections for seafarers.

P&O Ferries have faced severe criticism over their handling of the incident which saw hundreds of staff sacked over a video call last week in which they were told they had to leave their ships immediately.

The leading ferry operator announced plans to replace 800 staff with agency workers after claiming its business was not viable with its current working arrangements.

Ghani said P&O should not be allowed to set a "dangerous precedent" that could open the door to other large firms conducting mass sackings "without following due process".

"The Secretary of State for Business made clear in his letter to P&O Ferries that failure to notify is a criminal offence and can lead to an unlimited fine," she wrote.

"The government must ensure the full weight of the law is thrown at P&O Ferries, including criminal sanctions where appropriate. This isn’t just the right thing to do but it is necessary."

Ghani said that P&O had added "insult to injury" after laying off staff after claiming "millions of British taxpayer's money during the pandemic".She added: "How do they repay this country? By throwing 800 people without notice on the dole queue.

"It's imperative that the UK government claw back every penny this company has received."

"I'm also concerned how the events unfolded and if appropriate government departments failed in diplomacy and managing key relationships with P&O and [parent company] DP World.

"I hope that urgent ministerial meetings are underway to understand what has unfolded. That’s the politest way I can put it."

Her comments come ahead of an attempt by Labour to force a Commons vote on ending the practice of so-called fire and rehire which they have described as "exploitative".

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the "scandalous action must be a line in the sand" as she urged Tory MPs to back the proposals later today.

"If P&O Ferries can get away with this, it will give the green light to other exploitative employers.

"It is the consequence of the Tory assualt on workers' rights.

"A Labour government will strengthen employee protections and ban fire and rehire to give people the security they deserve for an honest day's work.

"On Monday, Tory MPs must join with Labour and vote to ban cruel fire and rehire for good. They must decide which side they are on – loyal workers in Britain or billionaires riding roughshod over rights."

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