On March 17, P&O Ferries in the UK sacked 800 seafarers with 30 minutes notice over a pre-recorded Zoom call.

“Aside from being callous and beneath contempt, this behaviour not only lacks any form of basic decency, but appears to be a flagrant violation of UK labour law and international labour standards. Furthermore, the use of non-union replacement workers amounts to a fundamental breach of freedom of association and an attack on workers’ dignity. We can’t and won’t let this go unchallenged.” say ITF

Cllr Alan Hall has joined trade unionists and signed a letter co-ordinated by the International Transport Workers’ Federation, ITF, condemning the sacking of 800 P&O seafarers by zoom.

RMT issued a statement today urging the company to protect jobs amid the speculation. The union said it has instructed members to stay on board their vessels once or risk being “locked out” of their jobs

Nautilus International have said the news was “a betrayal of British workers”, with their General secretary Mark Dickinson slamming the company’s behaviour and pledging to fight the job cuts: “There was no consultation and no notice given by P&O. Be assured the full resources of Nautilus International stand ready to act in defence of our members. We have instructed our members to stay onboard until further notice.”

Trade Unionists Protesting outside DP World

Manuel Cortes, General Secretary has signed the letter on behalf of the TSSA saying:

“This is about more than just solidarity. We were all shocked and outraged at what we saw last week. But the truth is that we have to take action to stop this scandalous behaviour in its tracks. If P&O gets away with this then it could spell disaster for so many more workers in a damaging race to the bottom that no one ever wants to see. The government must be held to account to act in workers’ interests – and with a Tory government in power that’s never an easy task.”

Labour’s shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh led an opposition day debate in which politicians lined up to condemn the behaviour of P&O and DP World. She condemned the tory government for sitting on its hands throughout the shocking events. “The livelihoods of 800 British workers were on the line from a scandalous act, by a rogue employer. And the government knew in advance. And they did nothing” she said.

Trade Unionists across the world stand in solidarity with the sacked workers.

On March 29, ITF General Secretary, Stephen Cotton is meeting with DP World, the owners of P&O in Dubai.

At that meeting Stephen will deliver this Global Protest Letter to Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, backed by hundreds of unions and thousands of workers. Cllr Alan Hall has signed this letter.

Full text of the letter is below:
To: Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, Owners of P&O Ferries
From: [Your Name]

RE: P&O Ferries mass termination of British seafarers

As you are aware, on March 17, P&O Ferries announced via Zoom that it was terminating the contracts of all its 800 seafarers with immediate effect, and that they would be replaced by non-union, agency workers.

The manner in which this has been done appears to be in clear violation of UK labour legislation and international labour standards, a fundamental breach of collective bargaining and an attack on workers’ rights.

We are aware that P&O Ferries is a subsidiary of DP World and that this is part of DP World’s wider plan for P&O Ferries.

Around the world transport workers and our allies in civil society expect and demand better. Multinational corporations like yours can and should treat workers with dignity and respect their rights under the law.

DP World claims it values “relationships built on a foundation of mutual trust and enduring partnership” and wants to be a world-leader on ESG. You signed up to the UN Global Compact committing to respect workers’ fundamental rights. Yet DP World’s much vaunted sustainability statements are meaningless if you allow your subsidiary company to act illegally and directly undermine those very rights in the UK.

P&O firing of all staff with immediate effect is unacceptable.

We call on you to:

  • Urgently convene a meeting with the two unions, Nautilus International and the RMT, together with the UK Government, to rectify the current situation.
  • Guarantee that this will not happen in any other DP World wholly owned subsidiary and that you will uphold your ESG commitment to the principles of the UN Global Compact and behave equitably and show respect to all workers in your supply chain.
  • Commit to social dialogue, respectful industrial relations and to develop a closer relationship with the ITF and our affiliates across all DP World owned subsidiaries that ensures that no worker has to ever endure being sacked via Zoom again.
DP World are the owners of P&O

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