John Lansdown joined P&O Ferries as a 16-year-old apprentice more than 20 years ago, and was working as a sous-chef when he was sacked last month.
Previously a Conservative party member and campaigner for his local councillor in Herne Bay, Kent, he is now the only dissenter taking a stand against his former employer, which fired 800 UK-based crew without consultation.
Lansdown was the only former employee not to enter discussions with P&O as the deadline for accepting its redundancy offer passed on Thursday.
P&O said all but one of the sacked seafarers had either accepted their severance terms — which offered 2.5 weeks’ pay for every year worked at the company and an extra 13 weeks’ pay for the lack of consultation — or were in talks to do so.
Explaining his decision to refuse the payment, the RMT union member said: “This cannot be allowed to stand because it’ll be a bellwether of the entire UK corporate landscape.
“I’m far from a hard-left activist, just a person trying to make an honest living.”
The severance agreements prevent former workers from talking to the media — staff were told that by doing so they would sacrifice their share of the £36.5mn pot P&O has set aside to fund redundancy payments of up to £170,000.
But Lansdown was determined to speak out and sue the company. After spending two separate periods working with P&O, he will receive one week’s pay for each year of his eight-year second stint, while former colleagues agreeing to the enhanced terms walk away with at least £15,000.
Several others workers also spoke to the Financial Times anonymously about their sackings and their prospects after P&O.
One, whose role involved ensuring safety aboard the ships, said he had worked for the company his entire career of more than 30 years. After the night shift on a Dover-Calais ferry, he was woken by colleagues on March 17.
He was given 15 minutes to collect his belongings before being escorted to the gangway by security staff, where…
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