Emma Harper, SNP MSP for South of Scotland, commented;

“Last week, I was at the protest at P&O Port at Cairnryan to stand against the decision, taken by P&O, to make 800 staff redundant via a heartless zoom call with immediate effect. I was able to speak both to people directly impacted and to the assembled crowd and trade union members. I repeat the Scottish Government’s position that the manner in which decisions had been taken by P&O, including the method used to communicate the redundancies to staff, was completely despicable. P&O must now reverse this decision, properly communicate with staff and their unions and act within the law.

“On Tuesday, the Chief Executive of P&O appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s Transport Committee. My colleague, Jackie Dunbar MSP, was able to raise questions specifically about the Port of Cairnryan. It was disclosed that 39 seafarers have lost their job at the port, but the Chief Executive was unable to explain why these staff were sacked. P&O is a domestic ferry route, meaning staff – at the port and on the ships at the port – must be paid at least the UK National Minimum Wage. What P&O have done at the port of Cairnryan is essentially sack seafarers and rehire others, on exactly the same pay, with virtually the same terms and conditions. It is unacceptable. This is on top of the admission from the Chief Executive that the company broke the law by not consulting with staff simply because it “didn’t fit their business model”.

“P&O staff have worked throughout the pandemic to support the supply of goods – including food and medicines – and the committed employees deserve better treatment. I again point out that employment law is reserved to UK Government in Westminster and that the UK Government have continually blocked reform of employment law including banning firing and rehiring. It is time for employment law to be a matter governed by the Scottish Parliament, where we can truly act to protect workers’ rights.”