Bosses to be invited to address MPs after P&O Ferries redundancies

Bosses from P&O Ferries and DP World will be invited to give evidence to MPs about the sacking of 800 workers last week, it was announced last night.

Representatives from the firms, as well as experts in employment law and figures from trade unions will be asked to come and address the Transport and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committees in a rare joint evidence session tomorrow.

The chairs of the two cross-party organisations said that the “shocking story” of the hundreds of redundancies had “raised questions” about employment law and safety practices in the UK, and put them “under a microscope”.

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Conservative Huw Merriman and Labour’s Darren Jones said yesterday: “From P&O Ferries, our members want to know why this action has been taken and how it can be justified. From the Government and its agencies, we want confirmation that our laws are not being broken and safety is not being compromised on our ships.

A P&O ferry moored at the Port of Dover in KentA P&O ferry moored at the Port of Dover in Kent
A P&O ferry moored at the Port of Dover in Kent

“This shocking story has raised questions about UK employment law, safety practices, the support of this business through a pandemic and the redress available. We intend to hear from the key players about what they are going to do that means these workers are not left high and dry.”

P&O Ferries had until 5pm last night to explain to Ministers the mass sackings last week. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wrote to P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite last Friday, telling him that the firm has “lost the trust of the public and has given business a bad name”.

There is due to be another protest in Hull today against P&O, with union RMT calling on local people to show “support and solidarity” in King George Dock.

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A BEIS spokesperson said: “We have received a response to the Business Secretary’s letter to P&O and are reviewing their explanations.”

He said the department will continue with the Insolvency Service to consider if legal action is required. The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate has also been asked to investigate the terms of agency workers’ contracts.”