Ministers were first made aware of P&O’s decision to lay off staff on Wednesday evening. It is a major embarrassment for Mr Johnson and comes just hours after he visited the United Arab Emirates to discuss increased oil production.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman and chief executive of DP World, attacked the UK government shortly after pandemic restrictions crippled P&O operations.
“The government has been slow. We need to protect these jobs – many people’s lives depend on this business,” he said.
He appealed for £150million in support from UK taxpayers just weeks after DP World paid a £270million dividend to investors, the biggest being the state of Dubai with an 80 stake %.
At the time, a DP World spokesperson told the Guardian that the dividends were linked “to a delisting process, which was announced before Covid-19 and which DP World is legally obliged to pay”.
Last week DP World, which also manages ports and freight logistics, offered to pay a $275m (£210m) dividend after reporting strong financial results in 2021. DP World said Thursday that it had not received a dividend from P&O.
During the pandemic, P&O made 1,400 of its employees redundant, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £10million. P&O said its survival depended on “rapid and meaningful change now”.
“We have made a loss of £100million year on year which has been covered by our parent company DP World. It is not sustainable. Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It makes my blood boil. It’s a complete betrayal of labour. It’s just disgusting.
“It’s a company that had holidays [money] during the Covid crisis. It is absolutely disgusting what they are trying to do. We must not let them get away with it.
Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said: ‘It’s under contempt. The thug action.’
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This notice was published: 2022-03-17 20:43:27