LONDON, May 31 (Reuters) – Britain says it has cancelled a contract with P&O Ferries “with immediate effect” in its latest action against the DP World-owned company following its decision to axe hundreds of staff earlier this year.
The Home Office (interior ministry) said it was ending its agreement with the firm to provide contingency travel services to “juxtaposed ports” where British staff operate border controls in Belgium and France to check passengers and freight destined for Britain.
It comes after P&O Ferries, whose ships sail across the English Channel, North Sea and Irish Sea, laid off nearly 800 workers in March and then went on to hire cheaper agency staff, sparking criticism from trade unions and politicians alike.
“We stand against firms who exploit loopholes and undermine workers’ rights,” interior minister Priti Patel said on Twitter announcing the cancellation late on Monday.
Transport minister Grant Shapps has since set out plans to introduce legislation to ensure ferry operators using British ports pay the national minimum wage, while a criminal investigation into P&O Ferries’ move has been launched.
Earlier in the week, the boss of the ferry operator’s Dubai-based owner DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, told the Financial Times that it was too late to reverse the job cuts, adding that the government “can’t do anything now” as the decision was in the past.
P&O Ferries, which has a fleet of more than 20 ships and operates over 30,000 sailings a year, did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for a comment on the contract termination.
(Reporting by Muvija M and Farouq Suleiman; editing by Michael Holden)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2022.
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