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Stewart Dickson, Alliance Party MP for East Antrim, who also sits on the Assembly’s Economics Committee, called the treatment of P&O ferry workers “absolutely brutal”.

He said: “This is one of the most appalling incidents I have ever encountered in my professional employment law career and certainly as a local politician. I don’t think I’ve seen worse either.

“People (were) just said in the most Orwellian way, ‘You’re out of a job. You’re fired.’

Mr Dickson said agency workers brought in to replace staff would be paid “woefully less” than current pay rates.

He added: “Unfortunately they are not the only employer who has taken advantage of Brexit, who has taken advantage of Covid, to fire and rehire.

“We’ve seen that with airlines and we’ve seen that with other companies.

“But 800 in one day, by this method, without consultation with the union, supposedly giving the government 24 or 48 hours notice, it’s all absolutely brutal.

“A lot of it depends on how UK employment law actually works. This company has taken into account the real cost of that. Yes, of course there are penalties for the incredibly rough behavior that the company has adopted against certain employees.

“But the reality is that many of them will have been asked to sign non-disclosure agreements to perhaps get a slightly higher rate in their dismissal settlement.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-21 06:19:00

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