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P&O Ferries: Stormont politicians call for emergency joint committee meeting to discuss dismissals

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Crew members pictured leaving the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour today. Picture by Pacemaker

Crew members pictured leaving the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour today. Picture by Pacemaker

Crew members pictured leaving the P&O Causeway in Larne Harbour today. Picture by Pacemaker

Political representatives are calling for an emergency joint meeting of the Economy and Agriculture committees in the wake of P&O Ferries decision to terminate 800 contracts of employment for seafarers.

Ulster Unionist Economy spokesperson, Mike Nesbitt MLA, called the move “Orwellian”.

“A Big Brother video terminating employment, with faceless enforcers with handcuffs clearing ships is simply shocking,” he said.

"Our Section 44 powers to compel the appearance of papers and people may not extend to P&O management, but that is a matter on which we need to seek urgent clarification from our lawyers.

“What we can do is offer trade union officials an opportunity to vent their anger and brief us on their plans for a legal challenge,” Mr Nesbitt added.

"We can also scrutinise whatever plans officials have, both in terms of the Department for the Economy on support packages for the workers and whether employment law needs changed, while the Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs can brief on security of supply chains for essential foodstuffs and other commodities."

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TUV leader Jim Allister said that P&O’s behaviour is “beneath contempt” and that the Department of Economy now need to apply “maximum pressure” to Stena Line.

“With perishable goods at risk, particularly in respect of supermarkets, like Asda and Marks & Spencer, which relied on the Larne to Cairnryan route, it is imperative that the Department of Economy applies maximum pressure to Stena Line to step up and provide extra sailings to alleviate the crisis,” Mr Allister said.

“It appears P&O sought to circumvent our employment laws by having their employee contracts rooted in Jersey.

“Going forward, this loophole must be closed by effective legislation,” he added.

“Never again must employees be the victims of such brutal treatment and exploitation.”


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