Passengers will turn their backs on P&O Ferries, says Shapps

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By Steve Jones
Home » Passengers will turn their backs on P&O Ferries, says Shapps

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reiterated the Government’s anger over the sacking of 800 P&O Ferries staff and insisted it will try to remove the firm’s influence from British Maritime.

Mr Shapps also warned that it will block ships from sailing if they fail safety checks and said he expects customers to shun the operator over the way it treated staff.

P&O Ferries could also face ‘criminal prosecution and unlimited fines’, he said.

The comments came amid media reports suggesting Indian seafarers brought in to replace sacked staff are being paid a paltry £1.81 an hour by Dubai-based logistics firm DP World, the owner of P&O Ferries.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: “I don’t want to see that company, with the way the management has behaved, advising the way that British maritime is shaped and rolls out.”

He said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will inspect the company’s ferries before they re-enter service to ensure the new crews are ‘safe and properly trained’.

“If they are not these ships will not sail,” he said.

Mr Shapps added: “For our part we’re reviewing all Government contracts with P&O Ferries as a matter of urgency and with DP World and, where possible, we’re looking to use other providers.

“I expect many customers, passengers and freight will quite frankly wish to vote with their feet and where possible choose another operator”..

MPs voted 211 votes to zero to back a Labour motion condemning the decision of P&O Ferries to sack staff and demanding their immediate reinstatement.

The vote, which was non-binding, also called on the Government to suspend contracts and licences of DP World and to outlaw fire and rehire practices.

Mr Shapps said it was ‘not too late’ for DP World to reverse its decision.

“I implore P&O Ferries to reconsider their decision,” the Transport Secretary said. “It’s not too late to acknowledge their mistakes. I hope the reaction to that now infamous video in the House, the media and across the country tells them that this approach is quite simply unacceptable.”

Mr Shapps confirmed P&O Ferries could face “criminal prosecution and unlimited fines” over its handling of the redundancies, with the Insolvency Service examining the matter.

While confirming he had been made aware about the prospect of redundancies on Wednesday night it was not until the sackings had taken place on Thursday morning that his concern was ‘sparked’.

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