head of The Trade Union Congress appealed to the Insolvency Service to for disqualify directors of P&O Ferries after laying off nearly 800 crew members without notice.
In a letter seen by the Guardian, Francis O’Grady, TUC general secretary declared the Bankruptcy Service should “to file a case for disqualification against directors of P&O Ferries Division Holdings Limited.
Bankruptcy Service last month confirmed that he “initiated both official criminal and civil investigations” in circumstances of layoffs, upon request upon request of in government.
P&O ferries caused outrage when 786 workers were laid off with instant effect on March 17, despite no notification or consultation with unions like required under company law. A company owned by Dubai-based DP World, instead said he would replace those workers with underpaid agency staff.
A week later, Peter Hebblethwaite, chief executive of P&O Ferries admitted to astonished MPs that its directors “decided not” to consult with workers despite “absolutely no doubt that we required consult with unions.”
His testimony prompted MPs to question whether he was “unscrupulous criminal”, but he insisted that he “will do it decision again”.
The Insolvency Service investigation will be closely monitored by the government, which has said it cannot take direct action. against directors of P&O Ferries, despite the recognition of the company in violation of the law.
Boris Johnson initially promised to sue in Courts against company, but a week later it turned out that this was not the case, and that government would instead rely on bankruptcy investigation.
In her letter, O’Grady wrote that there were three separate legal grounds. for disqualification of Hebblethwaite and his fellow directors: lack of consultation with unions on layoffs; failure in them duty “take into account the interests of their employees”; and failure to notify flag states of ship concerned. All three are legal obligations, she said.
“Directors of P&O Ferries knowingly violated the law and acted against their confidante duty take into account the interests of their employees. Mr Hebblethwaite even said he would do the same. again. reputation of their company in rags,” wrote O’Grady.
Louise Hay, shadow transport secretary said: “Months on from their shamelessness, criminal act, P&O bosses have faced no consequences. government talked good game but completely failed to hold them accountable.
“No ifs, no buts, all board should be amazed off for trampling over in rule of law in this country.”
The government’s Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA) subjected P&O Ferries to detailed checks amid concerns. over possibly “inexperienced crew”. The company complained that the agency acted with “unprecedented level of severity” after several vessels failed to go to sea.
P&O Ferries Now Serves All of his ships between Great Britain and Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Netherlands. Only on in busy Route from Dover to Calais – a key United Kingdom trade the artery by which every ship crosses the English Channel up to 10 times day – two of four ships are still being inspected by the MCA.
Proposed law government would say ensure P&O and other ferries operators Paying seafarers the minimum wage was announced during the Queen’s speech earlier in May. However, the port operators and TUC both question on whether the proposed laws would have any effect in practice.
After public protest over layoffs, ministers confirmed in April that DP World will lose partner status in free port of the Solent. However, DP World is still listed as a “partner”. on free port of the Thames. Freeports offer businesses in in area low taxes in Hope of stimulate investment, but their benefits are questioned by many economists.
Directors of the P&O Ferries holding company includes Hebblethwaite and five others, one of who is listed as a resident in United Arab Emirates, etc. in Luxembourg.
P&O ferries declined to comment. governments business and transport departments also declined to the comment The Insolvency Service stated that it could not comment while the investigation was going on.