LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Tuesday it would introduce legislation giving its ports the power to refuse access to ferry services that do not pay the national minimum wage, as part of measures to prevent a repeat of P&O Ferries' controversial job cuts.
P&O Ferries' fired nearly 800 employees without notice in March in favour of cheaper staff, a move that has since prompted a criminal investigation following sharp criticism over the company's disregard for workers' rights.
The bill, announced as part of the government's legislative agenda for the coming parliamentary session, would allow ports to surcharge ferry operators who do not pay workers the equivalent of the minimum wage and to block their access to the port.
The minimum wage is currently 9.50 pounds ($11.71) an hour.
The government said the bill would ensure all ferry crews receive a fair wage whilst in UK waters and deter other companies from repeating P&O's actions by closing legislative gaps.
P&O Ferries, a 180-year old company now owned by Dubai-based logistics group DP World, has a fleet of over 20 ships which sail across the English Channel, North Sea and Irish Sea.
($1 = 0.8110 pounds)
(Reporting by Muvija M, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)