UN watchdog slams Tories over failures to act on the P&O Ferries …

THE United Nations workers’ rights watchdog has rebuked the government over its failures on the P&O Ferries scandal and called for a strengthening of employee protections.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) urged the Tories to increase sanctions for companies that ignore the law and to ensure that workers can get their jobs back.

Nearly 800 seafarers were sacked illegally by the firm last March, with foreign agency staff lined up to take their place.

The TUC, Nautilus, RMT, ITF and ITUC issued a joint statement today, warning: “P&O Ferries’ brutal sacking of 800 dedicated seafarers in March 2022 was one of the most shocking episodes in modern industrial relations.

“Despite admitting acting illegally, P&O Ferries have faced no sanctions and have been let off the hook for their appalling treatment of staff.

“There is nothing to stop another P&O Ferries scandal from happening again under current UK law.”

They added: “Conservative ministers haven’t lifted a finger. They should have come down like a ton of bricks on P&O Ferries and their parent company, DP World.

“Instead they have they have spent at least £600,000 on P&O Ferries’ services, offered lucrative freeport contracts to DP World and turned a blind eye to P&O Ferries’ disgraceful behaviour. 

“As the ILO makes clear, this can’t go on. Without a proper sanctions regime, rogue employers like P&O Ferries will continue to get away with treating staff like disposable labour.”

The ILO recommended that collective bargaining “implies both a give-and-take process and a reasonable certainty that negotiated commitments will be honoured.”

It urged the government “to ensure mutual respect for the commitment undertaken in collective agreements, which is an important element of the right to bargain collectively and should be upheld in order to establish labour relations on stable and firm ground.”

The ILO also asked ministers “to ensure an adequate and efficient system of protection against acts of anti-union discrimination, which should include sufficiently dissuasive sanctions and prompt means of redress, emphasising reinstatement as an effective means of redress.”

In the summer, the ILO condemned the Tories’ anti-union drive and called on ministers to bring British union legislation into line with international law.

The TUC has recently reported the government to the ILO committee of experts over the imposition of its draconian Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act.