Without access to adequate sanctions the appalling behaviour demonstrated by P&O will continue

25 March 2022

It has been widely reported that, despite its CEO admitting deliberately flouting the rules, the government does not believe there is much legal recourse it can take in penalising P&O for its shameful behaviour.

By Debove Sophie

P&O sacked 800 workers by Zoom call, and then replaced them all with workers being paid well below minimum wage.

The lack of a legal route to punishing P&O is not a surprise to some, as General Secretary of Prospect Mike Clancy  sets out:

“News that there is inadequate legal recourse available to counter the shameful treatment of workers by P&O will come as no surprise to anyone with knowledge of the UK employment relations environment. The bottom line is, as long as the only likely penalty for such abysmal behaviour is a modest fine, some unscrupulous employers will make the calculation that it is a price worth paying to do what they want.

“We cannot ‘level up’ or have a ‘high wage, high skill’ economy, if it is built on the sand of poor regulation.

“Urgent action needs to be taken to enact meaningful sanctions that can be imposed on employers who behave in this manner, including injunctions to stop them from operating and to prevent those executives responsible from being allowed in positions of power.

“As long as the only risk to an employer is a claim to an under-resourced and stretched Employment Tribunal process that is riddled with delay, then this kind of destructive practice will continue.”


Prospect has members working in aviation, road, rail and maritime transportation, as well as regulation and research.