Grant Shapps, transport secretary, is to inform P&O Ferries to re-hire the 800 workers it sacked earlier this month, as its plan to switch them with very low-paid employees is doomed as a result of a brand new legislation will quickly outlaw the follow.
Shapps will inform Peter Hebblethwaite, the corporate’s chief govt, that new laws — to be outlined this week — would require all ferry firms working out of UK ports to pay the nationwide minimal wage.
An aide to the transport secretary stated: “He’ll inform Hebblethwaite that if he doesn’t carry out a U-turn, we’ll pressure him to do it anyway. We hope they’ll see cause and step again. We are going to make it unattainable for ferry firms to function from UK ports with out paying the nationwide minimal wage.”
The corporate, which sacked 800 employees earlier this month with none formal session, needs to halve its labour prices by changing crews with worldwide company workers on an average hourly rate of £5.50.
Shapps plans to put in writing to Hebblethwaite earlier than outlining his legislative proposal to MPs later this week. He’ll say that he expects workers to be handled with “decency and respect”.
The laws will cast off a loophole in UK legislation by mandating that ferry firms should pay the British statutory minimal wage, whose most important charge will rise to £9.50 from April.
Shapps hopes the prospect of the forthcoming laws will encourage P&O to reinstate most of the employees of their previous jobs even earlier than it comes into impact, in keeping with his aide.
The transport secretary is predicted to stipulate his plans to vary the legislation on Wednesday or Thursday, earlier than MPs depart Westminster for a two-week Easter recess.
Final week Shapps pledged to cease a race to the underside on wages on UK ferry routes. “There are different operators who’ve been utilizing this mannequin . . . Irish Ferries already went down this route,” he stated.
Shapps stated his modifications would shield “these like Stena and DFDS who will not be utilizing this low cost labour, under the minimal wage, mannequin”. Irish Ferries has declined to touch upon Shapps’s remarks.
Final week Hebblethwaite admitted that P&O had chosen to not seek the advice of on the 800 redundancies — a breach that would go away it open to paying “protecting awards” of 90 days pay, on prime of redundancy payouts, if taken to a tribunal.
P&O Ferries has successfully supplied to pay this upfront as a part of a redundancy bundle that’s extra beneficiant than the statutory minimal, whereas additionally setting a deadline for workers to simply accept — making it unlikely that crew members would wish to run the chance of pursuing authorized motion.
P&O didn’t reply to requests for remark.