Ex-P&O Ferries chief sues for unfair dismissal

A former P&O Ferries chief is suing the company and its chief executive for wrongful termination, alleged racial discrimination and harassment.

John Lansdown is the only sailor to take legal action after 800 workers were furloughed without notice last month.

In his application to the court, he accuses P&O of treating him unfavorably because he is British and eligible for the minimum wage.

P&O Ferries said the job cuts were “categorically not based on the race or nationality of the staff affected”.

The business “needed fundamental change to make it viable – we knew this move was the only way to save the business,” P&O said in a statement.

Mr Lansdown is seeking financial compensation as well as exemplary damages of up to £76million to ‘deter’ P&O Ferries or DP World from doing the same in the future.

He would use the money to set up a new trust to campaign to protect seafarers’ wages and outlaw ‘fire and hire’ practices in the industry and more broadly in the UK, he said.

Mr Lansdown, 39, told the BBC he wanted to get ‘justice’ for all his former colleagues who felt they had ‘no choice’ but to settle their case.

“It’s not just about me,” he said. “799 members of my seafaring family lost their livelihoods, their way of life, their homes for half the year and that’s a whole thing.”

P&O confirmed to the BBC that “all but one of the employees” had agreed to a settlement and had therefore lost their right to any legal action as a result.

Mr Lansdown said he joined P&O Ferries as a 16-year-old trainee and was working as a sous chef on The Pride of Canterbury when he was sacked three weeks ago.

He was working on the ship and had to leave his business behind when he was informed “out of the blue and without any prior consultation” of his immediate dismissal, he said.

In his legal documents, seen by the BBC, he claimed that private security guards, handcuffed and wearing balaclavas, had been hired to remove workers who refused to disembark from the ferries.

“I was devastated by the brutal summary dismissal after many years of loyal and diligent service,” her claim states. “The manner of the dismissal was harassing.”

In a statement to the BBC, P&O said: “None of the staff involved in the redundancies wore balaclavas or were instructed to use handcuffs or force.

“The staff remained professional, friendly and calm in a difficult situation for everyone, trying to ensure the safety of everyone on board the vessels. There was no harassment,” he said. declared.

Mr Lansdown alleges the dismissal was a ‘sham’ and illegal because there was no fair selection process, no diminished need for his job, and P&O Ferries’ parent company Dubai Ports World (DP World) , is very profitable, the document adds.

Mr Lansdown’s British nationality also had a significant influence on the decision to make staff redundant and replace them with non-British crew paid below minimum wage of up to £5.50 an hour, it alleges. he additionally.

P&O Ferries boss Peter Hebblethwaite has previously admitted to MPs that a decision to fire 800 workers without notice or union consultation had broken the law but said he would make the decision again if necessary.

At the time, he said of his decision that no union would have agreed to the plan and that it was easier to compensate the workers “in full” instead.

“Undermining his dignity”

In his legal complaint, Mr Lansdown accused the company of ‘violating his dignity and creating an intimidating, hostile, demeaning and humiliating environment’.

It seeks financial compensation as well as exemplary damages of up to £76million to ‘deter’ P&O Ferries or DP World from doing the same in the future.

Mr Lansdown intended to use the entire sum to set up a new trust to campaign to protect seafarers’ wages and outlaw ‘fire and hire’ practices in the industry and more widely in the UK, he said.

“At the end of the day, the very essence of Brexit has happened to us,” Mr Lansdown told the BBC. “It could give the green light for other companies to do the same.”

P&O Ferries previously said the 800 redundant workers would be offered a total of £36.5million – with around 40 of them receiving more than £100,000 each.

the The Insolvency Service opened criminal and civil investigations in the controversial mass layoffs.

Follow Rianna on Twitter @The_Crox

About Kevin Strickland

Check Also

Korn Ferry’s royalty revenue increases 29.9% in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, growth across all lines of business

June 22, 2022 Korn Ferry’s (NYSE: KFY) commission revenue increased 29.9% year-over-year during the company’s …