A legal expert has told the Parliamentary committee looking into the P&O Ferries’ sacking of 800 staff that he thinks the company has breached legislation on several levels.
Professor Alan Bogg, Professor of Labour Law at University of Bristol, said it appears the company has breached unfair dismissal and discrimination law among others and the Government should focus on providing remedies to affected employees.
Mike Lynch, General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) told the committee: “Some of our people still have not had their packages. They don’t know what the company is going to award them with. P&O says they have got access to lawyers – they’ve not had access to lawyers.
“Nobody is discussing how we are going to get these people back to work.”
He implored the Government to ‘intervene now to impound these ships and get our people back to work and then sort out the law after’, adding: “I have no faith that P&O will run these vessels safely.”
P&O Ferries Chief Executive Peter Hebblethwaite also appeared in front of the joint committee of the Department for Transport (DfT) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
During Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons he believed the ferry operator has broken the law.
“We will be taking action… and we will be encouraging workers themselves to take action,” he said.
The Government expressed anger last week at not being given notice of P&O Ferries’ intention to sack workers.
However, a maritime law specialist has said legislation was amended in 2018 so the Government does not have to be notified of mass redundancies on ships registered overseas.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Hebblethwaite said: “I want to say sorry to the people affected and their families for the impact it’s had on them, and also to the 2,200 people who still work for P&O and will have been asked a lot of difficult questions about this.”
In a letter from P&O Ferries to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng on Tuesday evening, he said the company saw ‘no other viable means of preserving our iconic British business’.