P&O Ferries workers are told they have lost their jobs in video ...
BBC South East, Twitter

An MP joined in a disparaging chant with an angry crowd during a protest against P&O – only, she didn’t realise it was aimed at her.

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke was heckled by members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union in Dover following the company's decision to fire 800 workers this week.

“You voted for fire and re-hire,” the crowd can be heard saying in the footage, before the chant of “shame on you” started.

Elphicke joined in the chant, not clocking at first that it was aimed at her.

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The clip was posted by BBC News’ James Bryant, who wrote: “Most dramatic moment of the day in #Dover covering the @POferries sackings. @NatalieElphicke getting heckled on her voting record while attending the @RMTunion protest.”

The crowd were referencing the events of five months ago, which saw Conservative MPs block a bid to outlaw ‘fire and rehire’.

Labour MP Barry Gardiner attempted to ban firms sacking staff and then rehiring under worse conditions in the proposed Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill.

Tory ministers blocked attempts to force a vote on the bill.

On the “fire and rehire” practice, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “I just wish the government had done what we said and strengthened employment rights so they couldn’t do this kind of thing. The government said it was going to deal with this sort of situation. It hasn’t done it.”

It comes after P&O Ferries fired 800 workers with immediate effect saying it is "not a viable business" after experiencing a "£100 million loss year on year."

The ferry operator has since suspended sailings "for the next few days", but unions have instructed workers on the ships not to leave.

In a statement on Thursday, P&O Ferries said: "In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK.

"And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years."

Many P&O workers were furloughed during the pandemic, with the government paying up to 80% of their wages.

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