Seafarer unions ITF (International Transport Workers Union), ETF (European Transport Workers Federation), Nautilus International and the RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) have issued a joint release condemning the actions of P&O ferries in summarily sacking 800 seafarers.
The unions projected a video on to the cliffs of Dover and images on to the headquarters of P&O Ferries, demanding that the company be brought to task for its immoral and illegal actions.
This action comes after P&O Ferries sacked 800 seafarers two weeks ago. One Zoom call, 30 minutes notice, and 800 lives, 800 families, 800 homes, communities have been changed forever.
The video features footage of P&O Ferries CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite, brazenly telling MPs that P&O Ferries had broken the law by failing to consult unions, and his shocking admission that “I would make this decision again”.
The actions taken by the UK Government so far are simply not enough. P&O Ferries has set a dangerous precedent that a company can flagrantly flout the laws of this country and go unpunished. Government needs to act, and if the laws don’t protect us, the laws must change.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson, featured in the video, said: “Some of our members have given their lives to this company, 40 years, they don’t want to lose their jobs. Government must now deliver on the fair ferries framework agreement developed with unions and industry as this would ensure such actions by rogue ferry operators can never happen again.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “Last night’s stunt signals the start of our Fair Ferries campaign. We want to establish collective agreements in the maritime sector as the minimum employment standard on international ferry routes from UK ports.
“The Government must introduce legislation to ban fire and rehire as the current laws allow employers to get away with the most appalling employment practices. This is how we will prevent grave injustices like P&O Ferries from happening again.”
General secretary of the ITF Steve Cotton said: “This battle is about respect. Respect for working men and women. My message to all transport workers, and all workers in the UK, is that unless we act this could happen to you. We must make the UK Government fix these broken laws so this never happens again.”
General secretary of the ETF Livia Spera said: “This is not just about these 800 seafarers, this is about an immoral move by P&O Ferries, that’s simply not acceptable. It sets a dangerous precedent that we cannot let stand, the laws must change.”
President of the ITF Paddy Crumlin said: “Dockers, and maritime workers worldwide, have no tolerance for this failure in governance and cynical behaviour. It’s clear what needs to be done, it’s time Prime Minister Johnson outlawed fire and re-hire and put an end this form of corporate bastardry.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady also featured saying “Every worker deserves decent treatment at work.”
Without immediate action, the P&O Ferries sackings will be a template for employers across the country to ruthlessly fire workers and replace them with cheaper, more easily exploitable labour. Government must act to prevent another P&O Ferries’ style jobs massacre.