P&O Ferries: UK ports will have Government support to block ships that do not pay minimum wage, Grant Shapps says

UK ports will have the Government’s support to block any ships that do not pay crew the minimum wage “as soon as practicable”, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

Announcing a package of measures in the wake of P&O Ferries sacking almost 800 crew without notice and replacing them with staff on much lower pay, Mr Shapps said the company had left Ministers with “no choice” but to announce the changes that will “fundamentally force them to rethink their decision”.

Mr Shapps said nine new measures will "send a clear message" that firms will not be able to act in a similar way, closing loopholes and strengthening employment rights for seafarers.

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Mr Shapps told the Commons that the job losses were “shameful” and “devoid of dignity and respect” .

P&O Ferries the Pride of Canterbury (left) and the Pride of Kent (right) moored at the Port of Dover in Kent, as services remain suspended following P&O Ferries sacking 800 workers without notice

He went on: “P&O Ferries’ failure to see reason, to recognise the public anger, and to do the right thing by their staff has left the Government with no choice.

“I am today announcing a package of nine measures that will force them to fundamentally rethink their decision.

“This will send a clear message to the maritime industry: we will not allow this to happen again.

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"Where new laws are needed we will create them. Where legal loopholes are cynically exploited we will close them. And where employment rights are too weak we will strengthen them.”

Mr Shapps also told MPs that legislation would be laid which will allow UK ports to refuse access to any ship that does not pay crew the UK minimum wage, but "legislative changes will not be possible overnight".

“But in the meantime instructing them not to wait," Mr Shapps added.

"I want to see British ports refusing access to ferry companies who don’t pay a fair wage as soon as practicable.

“This will have the full backing of the Government and I’ve instructed the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to get behind this action too, and they’ve indicated that they will.”