Owners of P&O ferries will benefit from a UK Freeport scheme of at least m 50m

The Dubai-based owner of the P&O ferry is expected to benefit from at least m 50m of UK taxpayer assistance as part of the government’s Freeport program, raising questions about its role in the project after it laid off 800 workers.

The UAE logistics giant behind DP World, P&O, operates the UK’s second and third largest shipping terminals at Southampton and London Gateway – locations among the top 12 freeports in the UK were chosen by the government as part of last year’s flagship leveling-up agenda.

Under the plan, the chancellor will receive £ 25m of seed capital funding from the public purse to upgrade each site infrastructure, as part of a project championed by the Chancellor, Sage Sunak. Each location also benefits from tax breaks designed to encourage business investment, economic growth and job creation, including taxpayer advance costs of up to বছরে 500m over five years for all 12 freeports.

However, trade union leaders and opposition lawmakers questioned whether DP World should have a role in the program after 800 P&O sailors were fired without notice last week.

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the RMT trade union, said: “It is unbelievable that a company that has treated British workers so brutally could still be framed for a 50 50 million loss from a British taxpayer. The government should ban and approve this bunch of corporate oligarchs in the strongest possible fashion until the sacked workforce is reinstated. ”

Under the Freeport program in Scotland and Wales, operators are required to demonstrate plans for high-quality employment and fair work practices – including the provision of real living wages, as part of the system imposed by the transferred governments.

However, the UK government did not follow similar rules for English Freeport, which led to criticism of the project. The government emphasizes that the UK employment law applies throughout the country, including Freeport.

“People are terrified of what they see at P&O,” said Andy MacDonald, a Labor MP from Middlesbrough, who counts Tiside Freeport in his constituency. “It simply came to our notice then [at freeports]. It guarantees corporate profits. It’s a corporate welfare on an industrial scale. “

The former shadow employment rights secretary said the government needs to reconsider who it did business with.

“They are all [freeport operators] Want to get the price out of Freeport and it’s not going to make a difference in poverty, health, longevity or anything else. They will take the money and run it, ”he said.

In addition to the benefits received from Freeport, DP World is ready to provide significant support to the UK Government for its African expansion plans.

The UK will be a minority partner in a joint venture in three African ports – Senegal, Egypt and Somaliland – operated by DP World, with an initial $ 320m (£ 242m) investment: the largest single investment ever made by the UK’s investment arm.

The Development Finance Army – known as the CDC Group, soon to be renamed British International Investments or BII – said last October that it would invest another $ 400 million in DP World Port and logistics operations in Africa.

BII told the Financial Times last year that it had added a “shared vision with DP World”: “Our investment allows them to expand their dollar further, to do more.”

A BII spokesman said the ports were “three out of about 170 different businesses where DP World has an interest. They are efficient and financially distinct from the P&O ferry business.”

Last autumn, DP World’s chair and chief executive, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulaym, announced a £ 300m investment in the port of London Gateway at an event marking the commercial opening of the Thames Freeport. DP World is investing m 40m in the port of Southampton.

With photos posed by Chancellor, Sage Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shaps at the Savvy Hotel in London, Bin Sulaym said the firm plans to be “at the center of Britain’s trade future” and its investment will boost economic growth. , Job and quality of life. Sunak said at the time that he was “thrilled” with the investment.

An official spokesman said: “The government has made it clear that we are shocked by the way P&O has treated its employees and the transport ministers have raised this issue directly with the heads of P&O companies.

“We are urgently working to establish the veracity of what happened in this case, and whether P&O or DP is violating any of their requirements as partners in World Thames and Slant Freeport.”

A spokesman for DP World in the UK said: “DP World will not receive any public funding directly in Southampton as part of our Operation Solent Freeport.

“The 11 11 million infrastructure fund for which we have applied to DP World London Gateway, we are investing সাইটে 300 million in a new fourth berth on site should be met, and another বিল 1 billion earmarked for investment ্য UK over the next 10 years.”

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