Written by MP for Dover and Deal, Kent

P&O’s massive dismissal of ferry workers and their proposed replacement by agency contractors is a blow to our community. This is devastating news for the P&O workers who are affected, as well as their families.

Have no doubt – this is disgraceful corporate behavior for which the owner of P&O, DP World of Dubai, must be held accountable.

It’s an insult to the decades of loyalty and hard work of the Dover workforce.

This announcement was also a reversal of the solemn assurances given to me and the RMT union over the past two years. DP World should rethink its behavior and reverse this decision.

Over the past few days, I have spoken with many government ministers urging the government to do everything in its power to pressure DP World to reverse this decision.

In response, No 10 strongly condemned the redundancies, the Department of Business is considering taking action if the law is breached and transport ministers are reviewing all government dealings with DP World and P&O Ferries.

I hope that DP World will take this into account and reconsider its decision.

This is not so called ‘fire and rehire’, it is simply bad business behavior. It is a violation of the principle that companies should treat their employees fairly and with respect.

This cannot be tolerated and it is right that the government has taken a strong stand in condemning what DP World and P&O Ferries have done.

It is essential that affected workers are supported. I have called on Employment Ministers to take immediate action to support affected workers.

Additionally, I am working closely with the leaders of Dover District and Kent County Councils to do all I can to ensure that as much support as possible is provided. I also continue to work closely with the unions.

The appalling mismanagement and abuse of workers at P&O also threatens to cause problems on Kent’s roads and wider damage to the UK economy as a whole.

I have worked with the police and the Kent Resilience Forum to ensure such disruption is kept to a minimum. I am clear that DP World should be held responsible if there are problems on the roads.

What DP World and P&O Ferries have done is a total disgrace. Their behavior breaks the social contract between employers and employees.

They have been rightly condemned in all areas. The right thing to do would be for DP World to reverse this decision immediately and reinstate the workers.

Our community has given decades of loyal support to P&O. Our country has donated millions of pounds in furlough support and other pandemic aid.

It’s not too late for P&O to come to the table and do the right thing. For everyone’s sake, including their own, I hope they do now.