Fury as P&O slashes pay and conditions under cover of coronavirus

The RMT has reacted with fury at P&O Ferries’ proposals for restructuring the business during the coronavirus crisis.

In a consultation document issued to the union, the company plans a series of changes to ratings’ terms and conditions, including pay cuts, replacement of UK seafarers with foreign crew, no strike clauses, statutory redundancy, cuts to the sick pay scheme, scrapping benefits for long service, leave restrictions.

The company is attempting to apply all re-negotiated crewing and terms and conditions including on new ferries they have ordered from China that were due for delivery in 2023 and 2024. P&O Ferries Limited’s ultimate owner is the global corporation, DP World, based in the United Arab Emirates.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Threatening permanent cuts to seafarers jobs, pay and conditions and the maritime supply chain at a time of national crisis sends a message of utter contempt to my members and the country as a whole.

“Job cuts, pay cuts, taking annual leave in rest periods, replacing UK seafarers with cheaper foreign crews, statutory redundancy, cuts to sick pay – it’s all of the things that P&O Ferries have always wanted to do to our members and the UK economy.

“To use the temporary market conditions created by the coronavirus to attack our members, the maritime workers this country will always need, is nothing short of contemptuous and the government need to step in here to provide more guarantees to protect British seafarers’ jobs and apprenticeships for the future.

“P&O Ferries say that no one is going to bail them out. Maybe they should go back to their corporate masters at DP World in Dubai who will pay a $332m dividend to private shareholders on 29 April. That would easily cover the £28.4m P&O Ferries want to rip out of the hands of my hard working members and their families.

“If P&O think that holding a gun to our members heads whilst sprinting towards the cliff edge is ‘consultation,’ then they’ve got another thing coming.”

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