Nobody could have missed the headlines last week when P&O Ferries announced hundreds of employees were being made redundant with immediate effect and facing unemployment. The announcement was critiscised by media, unions, politicians and the public. Did P&O Ferries intentionally side step the correct process that employers have to follow when making large scale redundancies?
Whether or not P&O Ferries has broken the law in the UK, the punishment is much harsher than the hefty fines the company may incur. The damage it has done to its brand is insurmountable and will take years, if not decades, to rebuild trust from its partners, suppliers and travel agents. Something that clearly P&O Ferries hasn't thought about is the long term employer brand damage which will take years to reverse (especially when there is a massive candidate shortage in the UK and recruitment is so challenging). Equally their customer base will have seen how the employees have been mistreated and recognise that service levels will fall as a result. And of course, consumers will question the stability of the business and book elsewhere.
P&O Cruises' brand is also taking a notable knock from the scandal as many consumers automatically think it is the same company (it is not).
We wait in anticipation the outcome of the meeting tomorrow with P&O Ferries CEO, the Department of Transport and the Business, Energy & Industrial Committee.
It has been encouraging to see other travel businesses rallying together and sharing jobs to the P&O Ferries employees on LinkedIn.
The prime minister has said P&O Ferries’ move to sack almost 800 workers without notice last week appears to have broken UK employment law. The firm could face fines “running into millions of pounds” if found guilty, Boris Johnson told the House of Commons on Wednesday (March 23). Johnson said: “Under section 194 of the Trades Union and Labour Relations Act of 1992, it looks to me as though the company concerned has broken the law. “And we will be taking action therefore, and we will be encouraging workers themselves to take action under the 1996 Employment Rights Act.” The PM also said the government will take steps to protect mariners working in UK waters and “ensure they all paid the living wage”.