Unsurprisingly, the two major UK seafarer unions have slammed the UK Insolvency Service’s 19th August decision not to take criminal action over P&O Ferries’ decision to sack 786 British-based crew members.
Nautilus said that a little over five months ago, P&O Ferries unlawfully sacked the UK- based seafarers without notice or consultation.
In evidence before a Parliamentary committee, P&O Ferries CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite, admitted that he had broken the law by not consulting with the Unions.
Under section 193 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, it is Nautilus’ belief P&O Ferries had a legal obligation to inform the UK Secretary of State 45 days in advance of sacking the seafarers. P&O Ferries failed to do this.
Under the legislation, failure to notify the Secretary of State is a criminal offence that can carry an unlimited fine.
P&O Ferries also had an additional obligation to inform the competent authorities with the flag states ahead of the mass sacking, in this case Bermuda, Cyprus and the Bahamas, which the company also failed to do.
Nautilus said it was disappointed that the Insolvency Service and Crown Prosecution Service decided not to undertake criminal proceedings, as it remains its firm belief that P&O Ferries engaged in a criminal offence by failing to notify the Secretary of State.
Nautilus general secretary, Mark Dickinson (pictured), said “This is a deeply disappointing decision and will be met with frustration and anger by the 786 seafarers and their families who were so cruelly discarded by P&O Ferries.
“Only one day after P&O Ferries parent company (DP World) announced record profits, making the company’s claims on operational sustainability questionable, we are further let down by a system that fails to punish apparent criminal corporatism.
“We note the insolvency service are continuing to pursue a civil investigation.
“The message is clear, P&O Ferries must be held properly accountable for their disgraceful actions and we will continue the campaign to ensure that the CEO and his fellow Directors are held to account and to make certain this can never happen again,” he said.
Ratings union RMT also attacked the decision.
RMT general secretary, Mick Lynch, said that the rampant profiteering following P&O Ferries sacking 800 workers was already a stain on the Government’s international reputation.
“Now the company has been allowed to get off the hook legally despite claims by the Government it would take action.
“Not only has this government stood by while DP World sacked workers and replaced them with low paid agency workers, It is now planning to do the same on the (UK) railways to replace striking workers fighting for their rights,” he said.