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Government threatens to scrap contracts with P&O after mass layoff | United Kingdom | News UK News

The transport giant has faced scathing criticism since its shock on Thursday, with Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden yesterday expressing ‘revulsion’ at ‘cutting P&O practices’. He said cross-Channel operator and parent company DP World should be in “no doubt” the government was considering its ties with them.

His words came as protesters marched at the Conservatives’ Spring Conference in Blackpool to express their outrage at the sudden announcement.

This follows protests in the ports of London, Liverpool, Larne, Hull and Dover on Friday, with unions calling for a boycott of the company. All services remain suspended.

Mr Dowden said the government was trying to establish whether the mass sacking was legal.

He said: ‘That’s why the Transport Secretary has asked the Insolvency Service to look at notification requirements, for example, and see if further action is appropriate.

“We all, frankly, feel a revulsion at the kind of sharp practices of P&O. There has been a complete lack of commitment, lack of notice or even any kind of empathy for the workers. I think they shouldn’t have no doubt that the government is looking very closely at its relationship with them.

The government has contracts with the ferry operator to transport goods to and from the mainland. One was a freight contract between Tilbury in Essex and Zeebrugge in Belgium for nine months, worth £10.9million.

And Labor has published an analysis of data which it says shows P&O Ferries had received £38.3million in government contracts since December 2018. Last night shipping union Nautilus International urged the Transport Secretary to revoke P&O Ferries’ licenses in UK waters as the operator resumed services on its Liverpool-Dublin route.

General Secretary Mark Dickinson has written to Grant Shapps urging the government to ‘hold P&O to account’ and pursue ‘every legal option available’ over the way P&O handled the mass layoffs and to demand the return of any money from taxpayers that the ferry operator received during the pandemic.

He wrote: “The action of P&O Ferries, terminating the employment of 800 British seafarers with immediate effect and without any consultation, is deplorable and a betrayal of British workers.”

P&O Ferries said: “We have made this difficult decision as a last resort. We concluded that the business would not survive without a fundamental change in crewing arrangements.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-20 07:29:18

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