P&O sackings ‘absolutely outrageous’, union boss tells MPs
P&O Ferries’ decision to lay off 800 seafarers without notice was “absolutely outrageous”, a union boss has said.
Rick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, told MPs that P&O Ferries “had committed flagrant breaches of the law”.
Testifying to a joint session of the transport and business select committees, Mr Lynch said: ‘They did it deliberately and they factored in what they’re going to have to pay for it.’
This is what P&O aims to achieve, kill our merchant navy and kill our employment laws, and something needs to be done todayMick Lynch, MTA
He said the company was “threatening and blackmailing” its former employees, telling them they had to sign a document or “you potentially won’t get any rewards and will have to give up all your legal rights.”
He added: “It’s absolutely outrageous.”
Mr Lynch described UK employment law as “a shambles”.
He continued: “The politicians and lawyers of this country have watched for the past 30 years while not only have workers been made vulnerable, but our merchant marine has been decimated and destroyed.
“If it goes as it should, from what I’ve seen, we won’t have a merchant navy in this country.
“There will be no qualifications working in British ports. British ships will cease to exist and British crews will cease to exist.
“That’s what P&O aims to achieve, kill our merchant navy and kill our employment laws, and something needs to be done about it today.”
Andrew Burns QC, solicitor at Devereaux Chambers, told MPs that ‘all employers owning vessels must give 45 days’ notice to the competent authority before dismissal’.
He continued: ‘From what I was told this morning, the notice was given to the relevant authorities of the countries where the vessels are flagged only on the day of the redundancies and not in advance.’
It “appears to be a violation” of employment law, and “it may be that (P&O Ferries) could be subject to legal action”, he said.