On June 24, Wednesday, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) in the UK intensified its campaign to save jobs at P&O Ferries, which plans to make 1,100 redundancies affecting seafarers in Dover and Hull. P&O Ferries, owned by Dubai-based logistics company DP World, transports people and goods along the Dover-Calais and Hull-Rotterdam-Zeebrugge routes, and also across the Irish Sea.
RMT’s statement on Wednesday followed comments made by Grant Shapps, the UK secretary of state for transport. Shapps’ comments were in response to a question by Grahame Morris, a parliamentary select committee member, regarding P&O Ferries’ plan to retain its Filipino agency crew at the rate of £4.50 per hour. Shapps had stated that employing seafarers from abroad on lower pay, instead of UK-based seafarers, is in abidance with international maritime laws.
RMT’s senior assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said, “on the day P&O Ferries ends its consultation, seafarers in Dover and Hull will be shocked to learn that they will be thrown on the scrapheap with the blessing of this Government, as well as P&O’s owners in the Government of Dubai whilst non-UK crew on pay below the National Living Wage keep their jobs.”
“As an island nation, we need a Government that invests in our maritime future or our economy will not recover from COVID-19. UK seafarers must increase as part of any recovery and Grant Shapps must look again at intervening to stop P&O from attacking British jobs,” Lynch added.
RMT had demanded the nationalization of P&O Ferries in April after the company announced plans to cut 1,100 jobs citing the crisis in the ferry services industry due to COVID-19. The union had also criticized P&O Ferries’ demand for £150 million from the British exchequer to continue its operations, while its owners paid out £270 million in dividends in Dubai.