A Lib Dem Councillor has asked for Kent County Council to request P&O change the name of ferries following the mass redundancies last week.
Mike Sole who is a Councillor for Canterbury South (KCC) and Nailbourne Ward (Canterbury City Council) asked at the KCC Growth & Economic Development Cabinet Committee for the council to write to P&O.
He suggested that KCC write to the company and ask them change the names of ‘The Pride of Kent’ and ‘The Pride of Canterbury’, as no one in Kent or Canterbury is proud of their recent actions.
P&O decided to sack all their staff last week and replace them with agency staff on as little as £1.81 per hour, say Union RMT. P&O have disputed this figure.
Despite wide-spread criticism, MP’s have said they are powerless to stop the job losses as the ships have been registered at overseas ports, so they lie outside of the UK employment jurisdiction. The current National minimum wage is £8.61 rising to £9.50 in April 2022.
WE have taken the “hard choice” to dismiss workers to guarantee the “future viability of P&O Ferries”
The MPs do have jurisdiction to change the law though and make it a requirement that a ship is registered to a UK port if it conducts a high percentage of its business through it.
Many have suggested that people refuse to use P&O for crossing the Channel, which is easier said then done when the ships are already overbooked. The M20 is scheduled to return to a lorry park to deal with the backlog in lorries trying to make the crossing, since P&O have not run for a week.
MP’s should have had a better handle on this issue before the sackings took place. They also need to instruct checks on the ships to ensure that agency staff are qualified to run the ships and safety procedures are being upheld.
P&O has revealed it is paying £36.5m to cover compensation for the 800 seafarers it sacked without warning.
P&O is offering two-and-a-half weeks’ salary for each year of employment, as well as up to 13 weeks’ salary in lieu of notice, and a further 13 weeks’ salary because of the absence of a consultation period. It said the compensation package was the basis for offers made to workers at the time of dismissal.
It is understood staff who accept the payouts will be required to sign non-disclosure agreements requiring them not to disparage the company or go to an employment tribunal – basically only paying them the money if they ‘say or do nothing’.
The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, told the House of Commons on Monday P&O was using the agreements to “keep the employees quiet”, and accused the company of acting in a “shameful and unacceptable way”.
P&O Ferries and its owner, DP World, are expected to face a grilling from MPs on Thursday, when they will face questions from parliament’s business and transport committees.