HELEN BACH: Sailing staff hit by storm of unfairness

Speaking from personal experience, there’s never a good way, or a good time, to be made redundant, writes Helen Bach.

By Graham Tebbutt (Edited by)
Thursday, 31st March 2022, 11:38 am
Updated Thursday, 31st March 2022, 11:42 am
Protests have taken place after P&O Ferries made all 800 crew members redundant without union consultation
Protests have taken place after P&O Ferries made all 800 crew members redundant without union consultation

The gut-wrenching news that the job you thought was going well and had a future has disappeared – sometimes a decision taken by somebody you’ve never met, perhaps in a country you’ve never even been to – is quite simply horrible.

While reeling from the shock, the worry about how quickly you can get a new job, how will you cope in the meantime and pay the bills, swiftly follow.

All in all, it is very stressful.

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Our household’s nadirs on this issue were leaving the office for the last time on December 22 and collecting the Christmas turkey with P45 in back pocket, and being ‘let go’ over the phone when sitting in a service station on the A14.

So the news that P&O made 800 people redundant over a video message made me particularly cross.

That’s no way to treat loyal staff. At least have the decency to meet them in person; have a discussion and a proper consultation, with the opportunity for questions to be asked and answered.

Then to read that the company had replaced them with agency workers from overseas – and they were

allegedly being paid around £2 per hour – I was, although I hate the expression, completely gobsmacked.

What amazed me further was to discover that this ‘fire and re-hire’ strategy wasn’t actually illegal as such, just considered bad practice and a tad unethical.

Can we add exploitative to that list too?

This episode has to be a new low in industrial relations in this country.

How can this be allowed to happen? And if it is allowed, surely other unscrupulous companies will try to do likewise?

There is, of course, the reputational damage this will cause to P&O, not that I was intending on using a ferry this year, but there’s no way I’d be booking with them now!

Perhaps it needs more of us to vote with our feet, to demonstrate to companies that they can’t treat employees in this despicable way?