Prince William Urged to 'Cut All Links' With P&O Ferries' Parent Company CEO Over Mass Sacking

© AFP 2023 / GIUSEPPE CACACEBritain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, gestures as he tours they tour the Jubail Magrove Park in Abu Dhabi during an official visit to the United Arab Emirates on February 10, 2022
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, gestures as he tours they tour the Jubail Magrove Park in Abu Dhabi during an official visit to the United Arab Emirates on February 10, 2022 - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.03.2022
On Friday, Downing Street as well as politicians from all parties and trade unions condemned P&O Ferries' decision to unceremoniously sack UK staff as "callous" and "disgraceful".
Former UK Home Office Minister Norman Baker has urged Prince William to severe ties with Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, the executive chairman of DP World, the parent company of P&O Ferries, which sacked 800 British staff without notice on Thursday.
Earlier this year, the sultan, who gets £5 million ($6.5 million) a year from the Dubai royal family, who owns DP World, provided £1 million ($1.3 million) in funding for the Duke of Cambridge's Earthshot Prize for eco initiatives. Last month saw a photo showing Sulayem and Prince William attending DP World's flagship Jebel Ali Port in Dubai during the prince's visit to the Middle East.
Referring to the sackings, Baker stressed that "Prince William did not create this situation but it's an embarrassment to him and he can't simply ignore it".
The ex­-Home Office minister added that he believes the Duke of Cambridge "needs to use his personal connections with his friend, the chief executive [of DP World], to get P&O to change policy on this and to reverse what they've done".

"If he can't do that then he should consider cutting all links with DP World. It's not a great look for Prince William to be associated with such a company. If he can't get P&O to change policy then the £1 million should be allocated on a pro rata basis – £1,250 ($1,647) – to all the people who have been sacked", Baker argued.

The remarks came as UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned in a letter to P&O Ferries' chair Robert Woods on Friday that the failure to give due notice of large-scale redundancies via the Insolvency Service and the Redundancy Payment Service "is a criminal offence and can lead to an unlimited fine".

"It cannot be right that the company feels tied closely enough to the UK to receive significant amounts of taxpayer money but does not appear willing to abide by the rules that we have put in place to protect British workers", Kwarteng underscored.

Shortly after, however, it emerged that Woods resigned in December 2021, with business department officials blaming the error on P&O Ferries' website not having been updated.
Earlier on Friday, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson asserted that the way the firm's workers were informed was "completely unacceptable", a stance that was shared by Conservative MPs and trade unions. The spokesperson added that Cabinet ministers were investigating whether P&O Ferries had broken the law, describing the company's behaviour as "extreme".

'Last Resort Decision' by P&O Ferries

The ferry company has since defended what it described as a "last resort decision" to sack 800 UK staffers, asserting that the move was "difficult" but that the firm could not have survived otherwise.
In a statement on Friday, a P&O spokesperson said that it had made "all efforts" to notify workers personally of their redundancy, and only a quarter of staff were told over a Zoom call.

"All affected crew who were working yesterday were notified face-to-face and in person on board their vessels. Virtual meetings were also held but only 261 of our 800 affected staff were on those calls. We know that for our staff this redundancy came without warning or prior consultation, and we fully understand that this has caused distress", the spokesperson argued

The statement was preceded by the company's owners saying in a video message to UK staff on Thursday that "[P&O] vessels will be primarily crewed by a third-party crew provider" and that the staffers "final day of employment is today". This was followed by the ferry operator cancelling all its services for the next few days and travellers being advised to make alternative arrangements.
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