P&O Ferries layoffs ‘clearly illegal’, union says in ‘dark day for shipping industry’ – Business Live | Business


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P&O Ferries is facing widespread outrage and the prospect of legal action after its shock decision yesterday to lay off 800 cabin crew during a video call.

Passenger and cargo shipping routes could face at least a week of disruption after the group laid off its workers, whom it plans to replace with cheaper agency staff in a brutal mass layoff.

Lionel Barber

P&O Ferries has hit rock bottom. Their conduct gives capitalism a bad name and their Dubai-based management and owners will join Tiny Rowland and Philip Green in the Hall of Shame

March 17, 2022

Marc DickinsonSecretary General of the Seafarers’ Union Nautilus Internationalsays the sacking has “ripped out everyone’s guts”.

He told Radio 4’s Today program

It’s a dark day in the shipping industry.

I’ve been in this game for over 40 years and have seen some curveballs and shocking developments over those times, but this is a new low.

This is a new low for a shipping company to handle the legal process in such an underhanded and insensitive way shocked me, took my breath away.

Dickinson says Nautilus and the RMT union are “actively advancing” their legal response to the “clearly illegal” decision.

The company has a duty to consult and consult with the unions. We have collective agreements for all ships on all routes.

We’ve worked for this company for decades, through hard times and good times.

This is clearly illegal.

P&O Ferries said yesterday it was not a viable business in its current state as it was recording a £100million year-on-year loss.

Dickinson says he recognizes the challenges the company has faced, especially over the past two years. But it’s wrong to blame the crew – some of whom have spent their entire working lives at P&O Ferries.

To treat them like this is an absolute disgrace.

Yesterday politicians on both sides called on the government to act to end what Labor and unions called an ‘outrageous betrayal’.

Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said the P&O Ferries layoffs, including the use of ‘handcuffed trained security, some wearing balaclavas, dragging British crew off their ships’ were ‘the rogue actions”.

The Guardian

P&O Ferries’ sacking of all UK crew members ‘in defiance’, says Labor MP – video https://t.co/t38DalhnJs

March 17, 2022

Labor lawyers have also warned that P&O may have broken several laws.

Employers are legally required to consult workers before laying them off, and those wishing to make more than 100 layoffs must notify the Commercial Secretary at least 45 days in advance.

P&O could be sued for wrongful dismissal because To M Longpartner in a law firm ShakespeareMartineauhas explained :

“If employees are made redundant, they can sue for unfair dismissal in the labor court, with the maximum compensation being up to one year’s salary in most cases. In the event of non-payment of their notice or of a legal indemnity for dismissal, these indemnities could also be claimed. If P&O fails to carry out appropriate collective consultation before the redundancies, unions could file a complaint for this failure, with a potential award of up to 90 days’ gross wages per affected employee if the complaint is successful.

“It appears that P&O will offer ‘enhanced severance packages’ to staff to compensate them for their redundancies, but it remains to be seen whether this offer will be sufficient to avoid significant litigation.”

Also coming today

Russia’s central bank sets interest rates today – last month it doubled rates to 20% after Ukraine was invaded, leading to sanctions and financial chaos.


  • 10 a.m. GMT: Eurozone trade balance for January
  • 10:30 am: Bank of Russia interest rate decision
  • Noon GMT: RMT protest against P&O layoffs in Dover and Hull
  • 1pm GMT: RMT protest over P&O dismissals in Liverpool


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