Maritime professionals union, Nautilus International, has called on the UK government to work with unions rather than attack them in the lead up to the anniversary of P&O Ferries’ mass-sackings, which occurred on 17th March last year.
P&O Ferries exploited significant loopholes in UK legislation and exposed the serious imbalance between the rights of workers and those of corporations, the union claimed.
Despite widespread public anger, the Government’s response has not protected seafarers from summary dismissal, nor closed the loopholes. The much-vaunted Seafarers’ Wages Bill, which will extend national minimum wage coverage to seafarers regularly entering UK ports, is not enough, Nautilus added.
Instead of compelling companies to consult their workers and unions, the Government has committed to pushing through legislation aimed at undermining the right to strike, including transport workers.
Nautilus Executive Officer, Martyn Gray (pictured), said: “March 17, 2022, was one of the darkest days in our nation’s recent maritime history when 786 seafarers were sacked by at one time iconic British company, P&O Ferries.
“We welcome the Government’s nine-point plan, including the commitment to seafarer welfare. The Seafarers’ Wages Bill was an important step in the right direction, but it cannot be the end of Government action.
“Government must deliver on its commitment to create minimum wage corridors between the UK and neighbouring countries, and it must ensure safe working patterns are part of these agreements. It must also commit to amending the Trade Union Labour Relations Act to stop companies from buying their way out of consulting and it must outlaw fire and rehire.
“Rather than attacking unions through anti-strikes legislation, Government will find open and willing partners to achieve our shared ambition that another P&O Ferries can never be allowed to happen again,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, brokers have reported that P&O Ferries has sold the 1993-built ro-pax ‘Pride of Burgundy’ to Turkish ship recyclers.
The former Dover/Calais ferry has been idle in Dunkirk East since late 2021.
Her sale price was reported as $320 per LDT, the equivalent of $3.7 mill.
P&O’s newbuilding ropax ‘P&O Pioneer’ left China on 3rd March on her delivery voyage to Europe. P&O Ferries confirmed that the ship is due to enter service on 1st May.