O n a bright March morning a year ago, it took just a few hours for P&O Ferries to bring the careers of its seafaring crew to a shocking halt.
Recalling the fleet to port, it summarily sacked 786 people, many by video message – with foreign agency staff lined up to take their place.Politicians were united in outrage; the then prime minister, Boris Johnson, said: “P&O plainly aren’t going to get away with it.”A year on, plainly, P&O has got away with it.
The brand may now be synonymous with corporate cynicism, and a civil investigation rumbles on. But no one was prosecuted, meaningful reform is yet to happen, P&O’s cross-Channel ferry business is gearing up for another summer as market leader – and there has been no sanction against either the firm or its owner, DP World.Nor indeed, against the directors: in a second jaw-dropping act the following week, the company’s chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, told MPs the company had knowingly acted illegally, and would do so again.
While ministers insisted his head must roll, he remains firmly in his £325,000 a year post.Few seafarers from P&O have been so lucky.Read more on theguardian.com