UK Home Office cancels Border Force contract with P&O Ferries

The UK Home Office has cancelled its Border Force contract with P&O Ferries after the mass sackings. The agreement with the Border Force agency came to an end with “immediate effect” on May 30th.

The move followed the Department for Transport winding up a deal with P&O Ferries after a review. “In response to P&O Ferries’ unacceptable behaviour, Border Force has terminated its agreement with P&O to provide contingency travel services to juxtaposed ports with immediate effect.”

Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, had stated that “we’ve terminated UK Border Force’s one-of-a-kind agreement with the company. We’re reforming maritime law to stop firms exploiting legal loopholes and protect workers’ rights.”

The ferry firm was widely condemned after it replaced 786 staff without any notice on March 17th, choosing instead to employ cheaper agency workers, and claiming that the move was unavoidable if the business was to become viable.

However, P&O Ferries’ ships were then detained by the Maritime and Coastguards Agency (MCA) over safety fears. Part of the reason was attributed to a lack of crew training and familiarisation.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has written to the Insolvency Service, which is carrying out criminal and civil investigations into the company, saying that its directors should be disqualified.

The UK government has since announced measures to ensure that seafarers will be paid at least the UK’s national minimum wage. It said it would bring in laws to ban ferries from docking at UK ports if they pay workers below that level.

Meanwhile the company’s RoRo ferry Pride of Canterbury (IMO 9007295) was reinstated on the Dover to Calais route on May 30th. The ferry passed its inspections on May 26th and has been cleared to sail.

1991-built, Cyprus-flagged, 30,635 gt Price of Canterbury is owned by P&O Ferries Cyprus Ltd care of manager P&O Ferries Sasu of Calais, France. ISM manager is P&O Ferries Holdings Ltd of Dover, UK. It is entered with Standard Club on behalf of P&O Ferries Ltd.