P&O Pays Out £36.5 Million As Compensation To Unjustly Sacked Workers

P&O Ferries was forced to pay £36.5 million pounds to former workers after firing 800 of their staff last Thursday in exchange for agency workers, which unions claim are paid under £2 per hour.

The Dubai owned British ferry conglomerate sacked 800 staff last week via the now infamous “Employment terminated with immediate effect on the grounds of redundancy” video message, leading to protests by both former P&O staff and union leaders alike.

Ministers have threatened P&O with massive fines and charged them with breaking numerous redundancy notice laws.

P&O denies any wrong doing and has paid out £36.5 million pounds to the 800 redundant staff, with 40 of them getting a payout as high as £100,000.

As the legal battle wages on between unions and P&O, P&O claimed that they haven't broken any laws sighting a 2018 law that states “Any UK company(s) with vessels registered outside the UK wouldn't be required to notify anyone on said vessels about redundancies”.

Instead, P&O only had to notify a “competent authority” in the country where the vessel(s) in question were registered.

P&O ships are registered in The Bahamas, Cyprus, and Bermuda (A British Overseas Territory), meaning that P&O only had to notify them about the redundancies not the UK Government.

P&O stated that “The very clear statutory obligation in the particular circumstances that applied was for each ship to notify the competent authority of the state where the vessel is registered, all relevant vessels are registered outside the UK and a notification was made to the relevant authorities on March 17th.”

Unions regardless of this revelation believe that P&O still broke the law, by not consulting the workers themselves.

According to the laws regarding redundancies: “Firms must consult with staff 30 or 45 days in advance if they plan to make more than 20 workers redundant at one site”.

P&O are mostly banking on the 2018 law to justify the lack of notification of the redundancies.

Marine law specialists Lester Aldridge LLP head of employment Kevin Barnett, said that removed the legal need for P&O to notify the Insolvency Service about the firings.

This is a key distinction as the legal need to tell the Insolvency Service is one of the most stringent, as lack of doing so can carry a criminal offence and unlimited fines.

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