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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Stand by the Seafarers

The mass dismissal of hundreds of P&O ferry workers reflects the reality of the world we live in today. Sacking workers to make way for cheaper scab labour was the norm in Victorian days when unions were barely legal and Management’s “right to manage” was the mantra of all the mainstream parties of the day. But it was more or less outlawed by legislation and agreed terms that the unions won through their industrial muscle in the decades that followed the Second World War.

This all ended with the Thatcher era that followed Labour’s historic election defeat in 1979. The new Tory government launched an employers’ offensive that outlawed collective bargaining and a roll-back of most of what the working class had gained in the 20th century.

There’s been no real fight-back. The venal approach of the careerists and bureaucrats and the decline of the genuinely militant left sabotaged any real resistance within the labour movement as a whole.

It’s true that the storm of protests that followed P&O’s decision to summarily sack 800 workers has forced Management to offer redundancy terms that they hope will buy off some of the dismissed sea-farers. But the communist call must be to support the demand for the unconditional and immediate re-instatement of all the sacked staff and help the campaigns that the workers and their unions have launched to take on P&O and force them to do it.