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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Save our Ferries

by New Worker correspondent

SEVERAL hundred P&O Ferries workers and supporters held a protest outside DP World’s London offices last week before marching to a rally outside Parliament. The rally was called by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) following the mass sacking of ferry staff on 17th March by DP World, who are the owners of P&O Ferries.

DP World halted all crossing in the four routes it operates: Dover to Calais; Hull to Rotterdam; Liverpool to Dublin; and Cairnryan, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland, after some 800 crew members were sacked on the spot to make way for scab labour recruited in Britain, the Philippines and India to do their work on bread-line wages.

The RMT, Nautilus International and the Labour Party called the protests held in London and other parts of the country following appeals to Prime Minister Boris Johnson either to force DP World to back off or to nationalise the company – something the government, needless to say, has ruled out altogether.

RMT has slammed what it described as a “disgusting statement” from P&O Ferries trying to justify one of the most shameful acts by any employer in recent history.

Sacked seafarers have basically been told that if they don’t sign-up to be gagged by a non-disclosure agreement then they will not only lose their jobs – they will lose money as well. This is from an organisation which has received £millions from the taxpayer to support furlough payments and whose parent company DP World paid out vast sums in dividends last year.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “These are the actions of a bully trying to maximise profits by sacking workers and replacing them with agency staff below the minimum wage.

“The detail of what the company are imposing is not new. The 2.5 weeks is what we have negotiated in the past with P&O.

“The pay in lieu of notice is not compensation, it is just a payment staff are contractually entitled to as there was no notice given.

“The way that the package has been structured is pure blackmail and threats – that if staff do not sign up and give away their jobs and their legal right to take the company to an employment tribunal, they will receive a fraction of the amount put to them.

“The actions of P&O demonstrate the weakness of employment law and protections in the UK. P&O have flagrantly breached the law and abandoned any standards of workplace decency. They have ripped away the jobs, careers and pensions of our members and thrown them on the dole with the threat that if they do not sign up and give away their rights they will lose many thousands of pounds in payments.

“This is totally unacceptable and RMT will continue to campaign for our members to be reinstated at P&O and for better employment laws to protect all British workers. ”