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P&O ferry “Pride of Hull”. Photo: Roel Hemkes from Amersfoort, Netherlands / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY 2.0, linked at the bottom of article

P&O ferry “Pride of Hull”. Photo: Roel Hemkes from Amersfoort, Netherlands / cropped from original / licensed under CC BY 2.0, linked at the bottom of article

Counterfire spoke to Glen Hart, RMT’s newly elected Relief Regional Organiser – South, about the disgraceful P&O Ferries announcement sacking 800 workers.

 What’s happened is a total disgrace. P&O Ferries announced mass sackings of 800 staff via zoom! That’s 600 ratings and 200 officers sacked without warning, without discussion, without consultation with the union.

This was a pre-planned assault on workers livelihoods with private security all geared-up with handcuffs and balaclavas recruited to intervene in preparation for a “backlash” from the workforce. P&O ferries aimed to provoke the workforce. Imagine, you go to work and you’re told you’re fired, with immediate effect, with no reason. As part of their preparations, P&O ferries had replacement crews – agency workers -  at all affected locations ready to board the ships to replace the sacked workers. They prepared a hostile environment and recruited a hostile security force to assault workers and workers’ rights.

P&O Ferries pocketed £13.2M of taxpayers money during the pandemic and its parent company, DP World made a profit of $1.3Bn, up 19% on the previous year.

The workers have kept P&O Ferries afloat throughout the past two years of the pandemic. They’ve even taken on the extra workload as a result of the 600 workers made redundant during the pandemic. And now the entire workforce is being made to pay for the cost of the pandemic.

This is a fundamental fight. If P&O gets away with this outrage then employers everywhere will feel encouraged to do it anywhere, in any industry. This impacts on the whole trade union movement. This isn’t just about RMT and Nautilus, the whole trade union movement has to get behind this fight.

Workers need to resist and take direct action like they did today on the ships affected. Solidarity can win. And that solidarity needs to be extended to agency workers. They’re just as vulnerable; they’re being exploited too.  It’s all about profits at the end of the day and the bosses will organise to divide us at every opportunity. That’s how capitalism works.

We’re demanding justice for all and that P&O is brought back into public ownership.

Join the protests:

Friday 18 March

Dover: 12.00pm – meet Maritime House, Snargate Street, Dover CT17 9BZ

Hull: 12.00pm – King George Dock, Hull HU9 5PR

Liverpool: 1.00 – Main Liverpool Port entrance, Liverpool L21 1LA

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