Nothing doing. Request returned to sender. The UK transport minister, Grant Shapps, tried to save the 800 employees that P&O decided to lay off without notice in order to cope with a difficult financial situation.
In a letter sent to the company’s CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite, Shapps had announced government measures to prevent the non-application of the minimum wage for the sector. Shapps had also asked Hebblethwaite to reconsider his position on the redundancies.
Hebblethwaite’s reply was immediate: In a letter to Mr Shapps, he stated that the government – “ignores the siuation’s fundamental and factual reality.” According to the senior manager, reinstating the workers would lead to the company going out of business. As a result, the consequences, would be much more serious: basically, another 2200 workers would risk losing their jobs.
Hebblethwaite told the minister that he couldn’t believe that he would wish to compel an employer to bring about a company’s downfall, affecting not hundreds but thousands of families.
Likewise Shapps’ demand to postpone the deadline fixed for March 31st for the acceptance of the offers of compensation by the people hit by the redundancy measure has also been returned to sender. P&O’s CEO pointed out that 765 workers had already accepted the settlement proposal.
Translation by Giles Foster