Skip to main content

Former maritime minister demands urgent government action against P&O Ferries

21 March 2022

Influential UK parliamentarian Nusrat Ghani MP has written today of her dismay at the actions of P&O Ferries in summarily sacking 800 British seafarers. 

In an article for The House website, the former maritime minister deplored the company's 'mismanagement and complete contempt' towards the crew members and their families.

'To add insult to injury,' she continued, 'this company based in Dubai, with no British flagged vessels, but operating in British waters, claimed millions of British taxpayers' money during the pandemic. How do they repay this country? By throwing 800 people without notice on the dole queue. It’s imperative that the UK government claw back every penny this company has received.'

Ms Ghani wrote of the employer's 'staggering disregard for the rule of law', and drew attention to the fact that failure to carry out the appropriate notifications of redundancy is a criminal offence and can lead to an unlimited fine.

And she had some strong words for her former colleagues on the Conservative frontbenches: 'I’m also concerned how the events unfolded and if appropriate government departments failed in diplomacy and managing key relationships with P&O and DP World. I hope that urgent ministerial meetings are underway to understand what has unfolded. That’s the politest way I can put it.'

As a trustee of The Seafarers' Charity, Ms Ghani expressed personal anguish for the affected seafarers: 'Worryingly, I am getting messages of concern from crew onboard the ships, who had no information until they arrived at the ports that they would be embroiled in this awful situation.'

She also feared for the future of British shipping and the Maritime 2050 plan which was developed on her watch as maritime minister – pointing out that the P&O Ferries scandal could make the seafaring career less attractive to potential recruits.

'I have long campaigned for seafarers to be recognised as keyworkers, and P&O Ferries' brutal actions are a stark reminder of the lack of protection they have,' she stressed. 'The government can change that vulnerability and give seafarers the protection and dignity they deserve.

'The behaviour by P&O Ferries is a turning point in maritime seafarer relations in this country and we have an opportunity to lead, but this can only happen if we take strong action.'