British port operators must prevent troubled P&O ferry activities. New rules are being prepared for this. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in Parliament today that these must ensure ports have the legal authority to deny access to a ferry if it is found that the ferry service is not paying its crew at least the national minimum wage.
P&O Ferries, which also sails between Rotterdam and Hull, caused a lot of outrage earlier this month with an unexpected mass surplus. The company suddenly stopped all ferries at the quayside and told employees that 800 people would be laid off with immediate effect. They were replaced by cheaper overseas labor. This was necessary, according to the company, which lost 100 million pounds (about 118 million euros) last year to keep the jobs of 2,200 others.
Shapps consider preventing activities as the best way to deal with human resources. He claimed that simply changing wage laws would not work. Especially since the law of the sea is regulated by international treaties.
The British Ports Association said steps to discuss wage improvements in the ferry sector were desirable. But also ports should not be loaded with such rules. Britain’s overarching body of trade unions, the Trade Union Congress, believes there are few gaps in the proposed plan. According to the authority, the rules will not prevent a new HR-like scandal. Instead, the agency called for stronger government action, including cutting ties with DP World, the Dubai-based parent company P&O.
According to Shapps, it will take some time before the amendment to the law is settled. Ports will be informed as soon as possible. “If companies like P&O Ferries want to dock in ports like Dover, Hull and Liverpool, they will have no choice but to stick to the rules,” he said.
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