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Call for William to use influence with P&O owner and help reverse sackings

DP World is a founding partner of the Duke of Cambridge’s Earthshot Prize and has donated £1m to the project.

18 March 2022

The Duke of Cambridge has been urged to intervene with P&O owner DP World, a backer of his global environmental prize, and help the 800 sacked ferry workers get reinstated.

William met Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, group chairman and chief executive of DP World, during a visit to Dubai last month and the company has donated £1 million to his Earthshot Prize.

Politicians of all parties and trade unions have condemned the decision by P&O Ferries to sack the workers with immediate effect on Thursday with no notice, so they can be replaced by cheaper labour.

Duke of Cambridge visits UAE
The Duke of Cambridge speaks with DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem during his visit to Jebel Ali Port (Henry Nicholls/PA)

Liberal Democrat former minister Norman Baker said: “Prince William did not create this situation but it’s an embarrassment to him and he can’t simply ignore it.

“In my view he needs to use his personal connections with his friend, the chief executive, to get P&O to change policy on this and to reverse what they’ve done.

“If he can’t do that then he should consider cutting all links with DP World. It’s not a great look for Prince William to be associated with such a company.

“If he can’t get P&O to change policy then the £1 million should be allocated on a pro rata basis – £1,250 – to all the people who have been sacked.”

During his day-long visit to the Middle East, William toured Dubai Expo and the nation’s Jebel Ali Port, which is operated by DP World.

P&O Ferries announcement
People protest in Dover after P&O Ferries suspended sailings and handed 800 seafarers immediate severance notices (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The company is a member of the transport taskforce of the duke’s United for Wildlife umbrella organisation, which is trying to tackle the illegal trade in animal parts.

DP World is also a founding partner of the Earthshot Prize and, during William’s visit to Dubai, it announced £1 million in funding to be divided equally between two Earthshot Prize innovations whose creators pitched their ideas at the Expo.

Announcing the sackings on Thursday, P&O, which bought by DP World in 2019, insisted the decision to cut jobs was “very difficult but necessary” as it was “not a viable business” in its current state.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union said there should be a widespread public and commercial boycott of the ferry giant until the jobs are reinstated.

It has called on the Government to demand P&O reverse its decision and negotiate with the unions.

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