One year after the controversial dismissals of almost 800 P&O workers, a union has condemned the government’s response as a national disgrace. The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is holding a demonstration in Westminster to mark the anniversary of the staff being fired without notice and replaced with foreign agency workers were paid below the UK minimum wage.
The government claims to have responded decisively and made substantial progress on seafarer protection.
However, P&O Ferries services were suspended following the sackings, and some of the company’s vessels failed safety inspections before resuming operations.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is criticizing the government for its lack of action against P&O and its owners DP World for the illegal sacking of 786 seafarers one year ago.
The union has planned a week-long event to draw attention to the matter and is advocating for improved seafarers’ rights, such as fair pay agreements, revoking P&O Ferries’ Royal Charter, prohibiting DP World from freeport tax reliefs, ending sea discrimination, and abolishing anti-trade union laws. DP World, a “rogue company,” has not faced any significant action from the government.
The Insolvency Service previously stated that P&O would not face criminal proceedings as there was “no realistic prospect of a conviction.”
A representative from the government stated that they took swift and decisive action against P&O Ferries for their mistreatment of employees and have made significant advancements on the nine-point plan established last year to enhance seafarers’ wages and working conditions.
P&O claims that it has invested millions in its fleet and has strong customer demand for its services, adding that significant changes have been made in the past year, including saving 2,200 jobs in coastal communities across the UK.
According to a spokesperson, “We are now fulfilling the requirements of our customers for both passengers and freight more efficiently than ever before.”