Grant Shapps Says He Will 'Block' P&O Ferries 'Brazen' Move To Sack 800 Workers

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Protesters hold a banner critical of P&O Ferries during the demonstration outside DP World headquarters. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)
Protesters hold a banner critical of P&O Ferries during the demonstration outside DP World headquarters. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Photo: SOPA Images via Getty Images)

The government will “block” the decision by P&O Ferries to sack 800 seafarers and replace them with agency workers, transport secretary Grant Shapps has said.

The company caused outrage after sacking its crews with no notice on March 17.

In a letter P&O’s chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, Shapps said the company had “one further opportunity” to give the sacked workers their jobs back.

He said a “package of measures” would be introduced in parliament to ensure workers were protected.

“Through that package, I intend to block the outcome that P&O Ferries has pursued, including paying workers less than the minimum wage,” he said.

Hebblethwaite, whose basic annual salary is £325,000, told MPs on March 24 the average pay of the agency crew is £5.50 per hour.

The minimum wage in the UK for people aged 23 and above is £8.91 per hour.

Appearing before the Commons transport committee last week, Hebblethwaite admitted the company had broken the law by sacking staff without prior notification or consultation.

He defended the move as “an international seafaring model” that was “consistent with models throughout the globe and our competitors”.

Shapps said the “brazenly” admission “demonstrated beyond doubt your contempt for workers who have given years of service to your company”.

“The past week has left the reputation of P&O Ferries and, I’m afraid, you personally in tatters,” he said.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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