The government knew of P&O Ferries’ plan to fire its entire 800 person crew with no notice and replace them with contractors but “didn’t tell anyone”, a union boss has revealed.
The company sacked the crew via a pre-recorded video message on Thursday, with staff told their contracts would be terminated with immediate effect. Staff say they did not receive anything in writing.
Union RMT is holding a series of protests in the ports of Dover, Hull and Liverpool on Friday. It has called the move “one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.”
Unions had believed the move was unlawful, saying P&O failed to notify the secretary of state in writing, as is required by law when a company sacks over 100 employees, however it has emerged that ministers were told about P&O’s plans a day in advance.
“The Department for Transport knew this was happening,” RMT’s general secretary Mick Lynch told LBC, but ministers “didn’t tell anyone”.
Asked by MPs on Thursday when the P&O Ferries first informed the government it would be sacking its crew, transport minister Robert Courts admitted: “The government was first informed of this yesterday evening.”