Grayling in the dock as PM takes P&O to court


Boris Johnson has pledged to take legal action against P&O after it fired 800 workers without notice, warning that the company could face fines ‘running into millions of pounds’.

During heated exchanges at Prime Minister’s Question Time, Mr Johnson condemned what he called the company’s ‘callous’ behaviour.

He said: ‘It looks to me as though, under section 194 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the company concerned has broken the law, and we will therefore be taking action, and encouraging workers themselves to take action under the Employment Rights Act 1996 – and both those Acts were passed by Conservative Governments.

ALLYOU Grzegorz Wasowicz/

‘If the company is found guilty, it will face fines running into millions of pounds.’

He added: ‘In addition, we will be taking steps to protect all mariners who are working in UK waters and ensure that they are paid the living wage.’

However, he refused to state in response to a question from Labour leader Keir Starmer that the Government would deny P&O’s parent company, DP World, ‘£50m of taxpayers’ money under the freeport scheme’ until it reinstates the sacked workers.

Mr Starmer pointed out that there are 82,000 seafarers in Britain, adding that he has spoken to 'dockers, engineers, deckhands and sailors, and they are all worried about what this means for them'.

He asked: 'Why does the prime minister think that they will take a crumb of comfort from his half-arsed bluster and waffle today?'

P&O has denied that it broke the law.

Kevin Barnett, head of employment at marine law specialists Lester Aldridge LLP, told Sky News that an amendment to existing legislation brought in by former transport secretary Chris Grayling removed the need to notify the Government of mass redundancies on ships registered overseas.

‘The amendment states the notification must be made to the competent authority of the state where the ship is registered, instead of the secretary of state,’ he said.

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