Grant Shapps revealed the Government has taken steps to cancel an agreement to provide contingency travel services between a key law-enforcement agency and P&O Ferries. The move comes after the Department for Transport announced it had wound up a deal with the same shipping company after it had conducted a review into mass sackings. The ferry firm sacked 786 workers without notice in March and replaced the crew with cheaper agency staff.
Mr Shapps said on Twitter: “I called for a full review of Government agreements with P&O Ferries and working with @ukhomeoffice.
“We’ve terminated @UKBorder’s one-of-a-kind agreement with the company.”
The Transport Secretary, who was returned to the Commons as the MP for Welwyn Hatfield with a 10,955-vote majority in 2019, added: “We’re reforming maritime law to stop firms exploiting legal loopholes and protect workers’ rights.”
A Home Office spokesperson described the move as in response to “unacceptable behaviour” by P&O.
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According to the Guardian, they said: “In response to P&O Ferries’ unacceptable behaviour, Border Force has terminated its agreement with P&O to provide contingency travel services to juxtaposed ports with immediate effect.”
The decision to sack almost 800 workers also led MPs and trade unions to question the safety of P&O ships.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency even detained P&O Ferries’ ships over such concerns, including liners which run between Dover and Calais, and from Larne to Cairnryan.
P&O also came under fire when the company’s chief executive appeared before a parliamentary select committee.
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However, Hebblethwaite told an industry conference in May: “We have not conducted ourselves on the day, or since, in anything like the way that has been suggested of me and us.”
The Government used the Queen’s Speech earlier this month to ensure seafarers are paid at least the UK’s national minimum wage.
It also said it will bring in laws to ban ferries from docking at UK ports if they pay workers below that level.