Iain Dale says nationalise P&O Ferries after firm sacks all 800 workers

17 March 2022, 20:35 | Updated: 17 March 2022, 20:36

Ian Dale says nationalisation should be on the table as P&O
Ian Dale says nationalisation should be on the table as P&O. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Megan Hinton

Iain Dale has suggested that nationalisation should be an option after P&O Ferries announced they will instead use third-party agency staff to sail their ships, making all 800 British staff redundant.

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Nationalise P&O Ferries and pay its parent company a pittance in compensation, Iain Dale has demanded tonight.

The LBC presenter opened his Thursday night show by railing against the seafaring company for sacking its 800 staff to replace them with new staff, a move which led to widespread anger and condemnation.

Iain said it was one of the most famous British companies but footage of P&O staff sacking their employees through video call was "pretty reprehensible".

Read more: Balaclava-clad guards haul crews off ferries after P&O sacks all 800 British staff by Zoom

"Today, we haven’t had a fire and rehire, we’ve just had a fire and then hire cheap foreign labour. That’s what P&O have done today," he said.

"The current management have brought disgrace on that company name today because they've done something which I don’t understand how they couldn’t have understood the consequences of what they’ve announced today.

'They've fired their entire British ferry staff, that's 800 people.

“They didn’t call them in one by one to explain why they’re doing it, and why people were losing their jobs. They did it via Zoom, can you believe?”

Read more: 'Tense and difficult' Lindsay Hoyle 'had heated debates' with Bercow but wasn't bullied

He said there are always alternatives to entering administration, as the company had claimed it needed to act over its finances.

"I think it’s just morally reprehensible that any employer would do this. I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to fire people before, and believe you me if you’ve ever had to do it, I’m sure you’ll feel like me, it’s one of the worst things you can ever do," he said.

"It can be emotional, because the person concerned maybe hadn’t seen it coming and I don’t think anybody saw this coming at all."

Iain went on to say that the P&O Ferries had received £150m of taxpayers' money during the Covid pandemic, and had still managed to pay a dividend to its shareholders.

He said the parent company, the Dubai-based DP World, should have stepped in to keep it solvent.

Read more: Andrew Marr: What were P&O Ferries thinking sacking 800 staff like this in the modern era?

"All the P&O ships will be staffed by people who have never set foot on them before. I've never been a seafarer but I remember the herald of free enterprise accident… I would feel probably quite unsafe going on an P&O ferry over the next few weeks," Iain said.

"This is a strategic route. A huge amount of our trade comes into this country and goes out of our country through the Port of Dover. I think the Government have got a real problem on their hands here.”

He said that despite having spoken against nationalisations in the past, the Government should bring it under state control and "give £1 in compensation to this Dubai fund that owns it because they have been morally reprehensible".

P&O said on Thursday night: "Safety is the utmost priority for P&O Ferries and our crewing management partners.

"They have recruited high-quality experienced seafarers, who will now familiarise themselves with the ships, going through all mandatory training requirements set out by our regulators.

"Safety is paramount in our new crewing management model, which is used by many of our competitors and has been proven to be the most successful model in this industry and the competitive baseline.

"We will not be reducing crewing numbers. We don't have a business if we don’t have a safe business."