In a notable development in the shipping industry, Carnival UK has formally withdrawn the contentious ‘fire-and-rehire‘ strategy in its dealings with over 900 crew members, echoing a shift in corporate approaches following the recent P&O fire-and-rehire fiasco. The decision signals a significant step away from a tactic widely criticized for its impact on worker rights and employment stability.
Previously, as covered in our article on the P&O fire and rehire debacle, the use of such strategies by major firms had raised substantial concern among unions and workers alike. Carnival UK’s initial consideration of this approach had mirrored a growing trend among corporations seeking to modify employment terms under challenging economic circumstances.
However, in a turn of events, Carnival UK, which oversees operations for prominent cruise lines like P&O Cruises and Cunard, has opted for a more conciliatory approach. The decision came after documentation, known as a Form H1, revealed the company’s contemplation of the ‘fire-and-rehire’ method as a means to enforce changes in working hours and pay for crew aboard ten vessels, including renowned ships like the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary 2.
The union’s response was swift and clear, emphasizing that ‘fire and rehire’ — or dismissal and re-engagement — should never be a resort for employers to enforce contractual changes. This sentiment is increasingly gaining ground, with calls for the UK government to consider outlawing the practice altogether.
Under current UK legislation, employers contemplating redundancies of 20 or more staff within a 90-day period are mandated to consult with staff and engage with unions. This legal backdrop frames the controversial nature of ‘fire-and-rehire’ strategies, viewed as acceptable only as a last resort and subject to strict procedural adherence.
In a reconciliatory move, Carnival UK has now pledged to pursue cooperative negotiations, aiming for a mutually agreed resolution regarding the terms and conditions for the 919 crew members involved. This commitment reflects a growing awareness of the need for more ethical and collaborative approaches in employer-employee relations.
The joint statement released last Friday by Carnival confirmed the withdrawal of any intentions towards dismissal and re-engagement. The company also rescinded the HR1 form, reinforcing its stance against making any redundancies.
This development not only marks a victory for the unions and the employees concerned but also sets a precedent for other companies in similar situations. It underscores the importance of dialogue and negotiation over unilateral decisions that can significantly impact the lives of workers.
The Workers Union Says…
“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.”