Southampton-based cruise line firm Carnival UK has withdrawn a legal notice that could have led to so-called “fire and rehire” of 919 maritime workers.
On November 22 Carnival Cruises sent a HR1 form to the UK’s Insolvency Service that revealed “dismissal and re-engagement may be considered if agreement cannot be reached on new terms”.
According to Nautilus, a seafarer’s union, Carnival has withdrawn the letter following urgent discussions.
Martyn Gray, executive officer of Nautilus International, an international seafarer union, commented on the withdrawal.
Gray said: “This is a welcome move from Carnival UK and a positive indication of their commitment to engage in a meaningful consultation with us over changes to members terms and conditions.
We thank them for their commitment to not dismiss and re-engage and look forward to working with them to come to a negotiated settlement in the interests of all parties.
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However, fire and rehire or dismissal and re-engagement should never be an option for any employer to force changes to terms and conditions and the UK Government should commit to outlawing this, a statutory code of practice is not enough”.
In a separate case a year ago, P&O Ferries [despite the name the line has no current link to P&O Cruises and is under different ownership] was forced to appear in front of a parliamentary committee after admitting to the controversial technique.
Is Fire and Rehire banned?
Although not abolished, the UK government released a planned statutory code of practice to protect employees and “crackdown on employers that use controversial dismissal tactics.”
If an employer is found to be in violation of the statutory code, the government’s code of practice will empower courts and employment tribunals to increase an employee’s compensation by 25%.
According to a statement issued by P&O Cruises, the “fire and rehire” strategy was justified owing to a revenue loss of £100m ($126m). The firm argued, “without these changes, P&O Ferries has no future.”
P&O Cruises and Cunard Line, both owned by the Carnival Corporation, said reports of the practice at the brands were “inaccurate,” but did not deny the planning of such a scheme or filing of HR1 paperwork.
The Workers Union emphasised how this marks a victory for the unions and employees, emphasising the importance of negotiations.
The Workers Union stated: “Carnival UK’s decision to withdraw the ‘fire-and-rehire’ threat and seek a negotiated settlement illustrates a positive shift in corporate responsibility and worker rights.
“It serves as a reminder of the importance of fair and respectful treatment of employees, reinforcing the need for companies to adopt more ethical and cooperative approaches in their business operations.”