The sacking of 800 employees by P&O Ferries is devastating for each single certainly one of them. The workers, a few of whom have served the corporate for many years, had been instructed – by video name – that they had been now not employed, with speedy impact.
The information has been broadly criticised, with MPs describing the corporate’s behaviour as “callous” and “disgraceful”. One union mentioned it was a “shameful” transfer, whereas protests in opposition to the ferry firm had been held at a number of UK ports.
Attorneys will little doubt be concerned within the aftermath over the approaching weeks and months. And a key query for them to look at shall be whether or not it’s authorized to dismiss workers summarily on the grounds of redundancy. One would think about that the corporate’s personal legal professionals had already signed off on the exact wording of the assertion delivered by an organization govt on the afternoon of March 17, 2022.
In it, the manager tells P&O workers: “The corporate has made the choice that its vessels going ahead shall be primarily crewed by a 3rd celebration crew supplier. Due to this fact I’m sorry to tell you that this implies your employment is terminated with speedy impact on the grounds of redundancy. Your last day of employment is immediately.”
Dismissing workers on the grounds of redundancy is certainly authorized beneath UK employment legislation – if the employer can exhibit a necessity to scale back the variety of workers, or if the enterprise is ceasing to commerce.
However with P&O, to this point I’ve seen no point out of a necessity to scale back the workers rely, nor of any plans to cease crusing ferries. Some then, will conclude that the dismissal of 800 folks relies on a method designed to economize.
Even when an employer must make workers redundant, there’s a requirement for consultations with these concerned and the suitable commerce union. If P&O is discovered to have ignored the authorized process of redundancy, this might quantity to unfair dismissal of all of the workers concerned.
From a broader perspective, it is usually value asking if P&O thought it may simply exchange workers with cheaper company employees. Has the UK’s precarious jobs market – and the federal government which oversees it – been giving the fallacious message to employers?
The worth of value reducing
From a purely monetary perspective, company employees are clearly good worth for (not a lot) cash. They’re typically on zero hours contracts; they don’t have entry to most employment rights, comparable to sick pay and vacation pay; they are often fired and rehired at any time; and they don’t have the backing of unions or employment tribunals.
However from a social perspective, the prices are very excessive. The adverse impression of such precarious contracts on employees’ well being, funds, profession prospects and safety have all been effectively documented. Calls to ban zero hours contracts due to their detrimental results have to this point been ignored.
But these employees want safety, not only for their very own sake, however for the sake of the UK economic system and society as an entire. Since Brexit, and thanks partly to the pandemic, the UK has misplaced 200,000 EU employees, leading to drastic workers shortages in a spread of sectors together with healthcare, haulage, hospitality and farming. The UK will certainly lose extra employees in the event that they don’t really feel their jobs are protected.
Those that argue for the flexibleness of zero hours contracts often have both college students or these approaching retirement in thoughts. However occasions at P&O present the large hurt that probably could be accomplished when corporations are capable of exchange loyal workers with cheaper options.
For the second, then, as 800 workers and their households face unsure futures, the UK is miles away from making its labour market safe for its employees. The present local weather of hovering costs and rising inflation makes their scenario even worse – absolutely time for the federal government to take a contemporary take a look at banning the rampant use of precarious and low cost labour, and eradicating the facility of employers to dismiss workers in what seems to have been such a brutal approach.
Ernestine Gheyoh Ndzi doesn’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that will profit from this text, and has disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.