Government terminates contract with P&O Ferries over ‘unacceptable’ mass sacking

·2-min read

The Government has terminated a “one-of-a-kind” agreement with P&O Ferries in response to the firm’s “unacceptable” sacking of nearly 800 seafarers without notice.

The Home Office announced on Monday evening that the P&O arrangement with the Border Force agency would come to an end with “immediate effect”.

It comes after the Department for Transport (DfT) reviewed links with the firm in light of the mass sacking.

The DfT said the review has concluded, with the only contract identified with P&O Ferries being wound up.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “In response to P&O Ferries’ unacceptable behaviour, Border Force has terminated its agreement with P&O to provide contingency travel services to juxtaposed ports with immediate effect.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted: “I called for a full review of Government agreements with P&O Ferries and working with @ukhomeoffice we’ve terminated @UKBorder’s one-of-a-kind agreement with the company.

“We’re reforming maritime law to stop firms exploiting legal loopholes and protect workers’ rights.”

P&O was widely condemned after it replaced 786 crew members with cheaper agency workers on March 17.

Politicians and trade unions said the decision put the safety of ships at risk.

Peter Hebblethwaite
Peter Hebblethwaite (House of Commons/PA)

But P&O chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite hit out at “misinformation” about the firm, telling an industry conference earlier this month: “We have not conducted ourselves on the day, or since, in anything like the way that has been suggested of me and us.”

He admitted to MPs in March that P&O Ferries broke the law by not consulting trade unions before sacking its workers.

The Insolvency Service is carrying out criminal and civil investigations.

Measures aimed at ensuring seafarers are paid at least the UK’s national minimum wage were included in the Queen’s Speech.

The Government will introduce legislation banning ferries from docking at UK ports if they pay workers below that level.

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