Govt reviews links with P&O after ‘wholly unacceptable’ and ‘insensitive’ sacking of 800 staff

The government is reviewing its contracts with P&O after the ferry company’s “wholly unacceptable” and “insensitive” sacking of 800 staff members, a minister has told MPs.

Condemning the firm, maritime minister Robert Courts told the House of Commons he was “extremely concerned and frankly angry” at the treatment of workers by P&O.

“These are hardworking, dedicated staff who have given years in service to P&O,” Mr Courts said.

“The way they have been treated today is wholly unacceptable and my thoughts are first and foremost with them.

“Reports of workers being given zero notice and escorted off their ships with immediate effect while being told cheaper alternatives would take up their roles shows the insensitive way in which P&O have approached this issue, a point I have made crystal clear to P&O’s management when I spoke to them earlier this afternoon.”

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‘Your final day of employment is today’

Mr Courts revealed that P&O was likely to suspend all services for around a week to 10 days as they find new crew members.

He told MPs that routes affected included Dover to Calais, Larne to Cairnryan, Dublin to Liverpool, and Hull to Rotterdam, but that “alternative provision” from other operators was being provided.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh told MPs that P&O’s actions were “beneath contempt” as she criticised the firm’s owners, Dubai-based DP World.

“It is quite simply a scandal that this Dubai-owned company, which received millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in the pandemic, without consultation and without notice, have upended the lives of 800 British workers, all while the profits of their owners, DP World, soared by 52% in the first half of 2021,” she said.

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