On 17 March, whispers began making their means alongside the journey grapevine. One thing huge was taking place with P&O Ferries: ships have been being advised to return to port and stay there; sailings have been being quietly cancelled; rumours have been circulating that the corporate had requested the providers of safety corporations in anticipation that issues may get ugly.
After which, the large reveal: almost 800 seafaring employees have been being let go along with quick impact, a truth they learnt over a pre-recorded video message from administration.
The autumn out was swift and dramatic, involving gruelling choose committee interrogations, ships being detained and claims of recent company employees being paid half the minimal wage.
Right here’s each catastrophe that has hit the beleaguered ferry firm because it knowingly broke the legislation by axing a whole lot of employees with out prior session final month.
17 March: 800 employees fired
The place all of it started: operations ceased as crew have been advised to tie up their ships and stand by for a “main announcement”. Shortly after 11am, almost 800 UK-based employees have been advised by a video name that they’d been made redundant with quick impact, to get replaced by cheaper company labour.
Issues rapidly escalated, with a lot of these fired refusing to depart ships, resulting in safety guards with handcuffs reportedly being deployed to take away them.
24 March: Choose committee grilling
P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite was dragged in entrance of a joint listening to of the transport and enterprise committees to reply for his actions.
Darren Jones, the Labour MP who chairs the enterprise choose committee, kicked off the session by asking Mr Hebblethwaite if he was “a shameless prison?”
And issues solely went downhill from there; Mr Hebblethwaite admitted to unlawfully axing staff with out consulting with unions and say he would make the identical determination once more because it was the one approach to save the corporate.
Andy McDonald, the previous shadow transport secretary, accused P&O of “behaving like gangsters.”
25 March: Requires CEO to resign
Grant Shapps made his emotions concerning the matter crystal clear, saying the boss of P&O Ferries ought to resign instantly after he admitted to knowingly breaking the legislation over the mass sacking of 800 employees.
The transport secretary stated chief govt Peter Hebblethwaite had proven “brazen, breathtaking and unbelievable conceitedness”.
Requested if Boris Johnson supported transport secretary Grant Shapps’ assertion that Mr Hebblethwaite ought to give up, a No 10 spokesman stated: “Sure.’’
25: European Causeway detained
The P&O vessel European Causeway was detained in Larne, Northern Eire whereas the Maritime and Coastguard Company (MCA) carried out a security inspection. It initially failed, with a document variety of points – totalling 31 – picked up by inspectors.
28 March: Transport Secretary tells P&O to rehire employees
In an open letter to Peter Hebblethwaite, Grant Shapps took purpose on the P&O CEO once more, calling his position as chief govt “untenable” and warning that he had “one additional alternative to reverse this determination by instantly providing all 800 employees their jobs again”.
28 March: Satisfaction of Kent detained
The Satisfaction Of Kent ship was detained in Dover, Kent, and failed inspections of emergency gear, crew coaching and documentation by the MCA.
29 March: P&O refuses to reverse mass redundancies
Mr Hebblethwaite wrote an open letter to the transport secretary, by which he staunchly defended the agency’s determination to exchange a whole lot of staff with cheaper company employees.
Of Mr Shapps’ demand that P&O Ferries instantly re-hire sacked employees, he stated: “Complying together with your request would intentionally trigger the corporate’s collapse, ensuing within the irretrievable lack of an extra 2,200 jobs.
“I can not think about that you’d want to compel an employer to result in its downfall, affecting not a whole lot however 1000’s of households.”
1 April: Felony inquiry launched
Felony and civil investigations have been launched into the choice by P&O Ferries to sack almost 800 employees.
Enterprise Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stated the Insolvency Service had began “formal prison and civil investigations”.
The Insolvency Service stated: “Following its inquiries, the Insolvency Service has commenced formal prison and civil investigations into the circumstances surrounding the latest redundancies made by P&O Ferries.
“As these are ongoing investigations, no additional remark or data may be supplied right now.”
13 April: Spirit of Britain detained
One other P&O vessel, the Spirit of Britain, was detained by the MCA after an inspection recognized a number of questions of safety.
14 April: Easter crossings cancelled
P&O Ferries confirmed that each one of its Dover-Calais sailings can be cancelled over the lengthy weekend.
The corporate had hoped to renew crossings over Easter, however advised clients that no providers can be working till no less than Tuesday 19 April.
22 April: New company employees fired for ingesting
P&O Ferries dismissed seven of its new company employees for ingesting whereas on responsibility.
The employees members – who have been a part of the brand new company crew P&O had employed – have been discovered to have damaged firm guidelines on alcohol consumption.
An organization consultant stated: “We will verify that seven agency-employed seafarers who returned from shore have been discovered to be in breach of our strict tips on alcohol consumption and have been dismissed with quick impact.
“The protection of our passengers and crew is our foremost precedence and we proceed to function a zero tolerance coverage in the direction of ingesting while on responsibility.”
26 April: P&O accused of paying half minimal wage
A union referred to as for a boycott of P&O Ferries, claiming the corporate had been paying employees simply £4.35 an hour.
The RMT union alleged that it had seen proof of company employees being paid lower than half the minimal wage.
“We’ve seen contracts of company employees the place they’re being paid the equal of £4.35 an hour for 17 weeks’ work,” the RMT stated. “That is lower than half the present UK nationwide minimal wage.”
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) urged each freight corporations and passengers to guide with P&O Ferries’ rivals in response.
P&O stated the criticism was right down to an “administrative misunderstanding”.
26 April: Ship adrift in Irish Sea
A P&O ferry was left adrift within the Irish Sea for greater than an hour after it misplaced energy about 5 miles off the coast of Larne, Northern Eire.
The European Causeway, which may carry as much as 410 passengers, left Cairnryan in Scotland at noon on Tuesday, certain for Larne Harbour.
P&O confirmed the scenario on Twitter, blaming “a mechanical problem”. Tugboats have been despatched to information the ship again to port.
27 April: Seafarers refuse to work after ship loses energy
P&O Ferries seafarers who have been onboard the vessel that misplaced energy and was adrift within the Irish Sea reportedly refused to proceed engaged on the ship.
Some company employees requested maritime unions for recommendation about terminating their contracts, reported The Occasions.
27 April: Grant Shapps says P&O ought to return furlough cash
P&O Ferries ought to hand again the cash paid by taxpayers for employees furlough in the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the transport secretary stated.
Showing earlier than the Transport Choose Committee, Grant Shapps stated: “For my part, although it’s a matter for P&O themselves, I feel that they should repay furlough cash. It’s round £11m. I don’t assume it’s proper that having claimed that cash they then sacked the employees in such a premeditated means, which they themselves admitted broke the legislation.”