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Union representatives set to brief Stormont on legal plans against P&O

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U

nion representatives are set to brief a Stormont committee on its plans to launch a legal challenge against ferry giant P&O after it sacked 800 workers.

Ulster Unionist Mike Nesbitt said unions will be given the opportunity to “vent their anger” against the “Orwellian” treatment of P&O workers.

Mr Nesbitt also said Stormont does not have the legislative power to compel senior management at P&O to appear before a committee before the Assembly dissolves.

The ferry operator, bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, has insisted the decision to cut jobs was “very difficult but necessary” as it was “not a viable business” in its current state.

Mr Nesbitt said the treatment of workers was “absolutely shocking and disgusting” (PA) / PA Wire

The move has been met with concern in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

Mr Nesbitt said the treatment of workers was “absolutely shocking and disgusting”.

“What we can do is hear from the unions,” he told BBCNI.

“I think we have to give them an opportunity to vent against this Orwellian treatment by P&O, and also brief us on their plans because they are thinking of a legal challenge.

“We could also hear about the kind of logistical challenges, because a lot of the Larne to Cairnryan route is very important for freight as well as for carrying passengers and we need to consider the implications.

“We had a look at that on Friday in terms of best and worst case scenarios. But it would not be sensible or appropriate to put the worst case into the public domain at this stage until we have certainty, because the last thing we want to do is create any form of panic.”

This is one of the most appalling incidents that I’ve ever come across in my professional career in employment law and certainly as a local politician. I don’t think I have seen worse either

Stewart Dickson, the Alliance Party MLA in East Antrim who also sits on the Assembly’s economy committee, described the treatment of workers as “absolutely brutal”.

“This is one of the most appalling incidents that I’ve ever come across in my professional career in employment law and certainly as a local politician. I don’t think I have seen worse either,” he added.

“People (were) just simply told in the most Orwellian fashion, ‘You’re out of work. You’re fired.’”

Mr Dickson said agency workers brought in to replace staff will be paid “appallingly lower” than the current rates of pay.

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