A number of Hull P&O workers were offered their jobs by the ferry operator but refused to take them, a town MP said.
Karl Turner, the MP for Hull East, said he had stayed in touch with many workers following P&O’s decision to lay off 800 staff without notice or consultation on March 17. He spoke to Hull Live about the scandal during a rally at the annual regional Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference, held in the city on Saturday.
Around 80 Hull workers were affected when P&O announced the layoffs. The staff was replaced by less paid temporary workers.
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Karl Turner was one of the keynote speakers at the TUC Conference for Yorkshire and the Humber, held at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Ferensway. He told Hull Live: ‘I have been in regular contact with many laid off workers in Hull. Most took the money offered to them and only one Dover worker refused.
“Almost all the workers in Hull now have other jobs, either in other shipping companies or elsewhere. Some of them have even been offered jobs by P&O, but have turned down the offer.”
Mr. Turner urges workers to ensure they have union representation. He thinks what happened with P&O is just the tip of the iceberg.
Mr Turner said: “I think it is extremely important for workers to register as union members. They must be protected from unscrupulous employers.
“Not all employers are bad, but workers need protection from predators like P&O. The government is letting them off the hook and we need new employment legislation.
The TUC called on the government to announce a Jobs Bill to strengthen workers’ rights and ‘prevent another P&O-type scandal’.
Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, addressed the rally alongside Mr Turner. She said: “At P&O it was not a case of fire and rehire, but fire, fire and fire. Staff protected our supply chain during the pandemic and then they were simply replaced by temps, some earning less than £2 an hour. But poorly paid migrant workers are not the enemy, they are bad bosses.
“P&O has raised two fingers to the law of the land. There was no consultation and the workers deserve better. The government should now strip P&O of all its contracts.
P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite told MPs on the Transport Committee last month that agency staff paid an average of just £5.50 had been brought in to cover the routes, with the lowest being paid at £5.15 an hour. A number of agency employees have been fired for drinking while on duty recently.
During the conference, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday, votes will be held on key issues affecting the region, such as public control of buses, the privatization of Channel 4, energy and free ports.