Unions call emergency P&O demonstrations in Dover, Liverpool and Hull today


TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No one should be laid off with zero notice and no consultation, let alone a whole workforce. P&O’s secret plan to sack their workers is reprehensible and unlawful.

“When an employer lays off more than 100 staff at once they must consult workers and unions in advance. And they are required to notify the Secretary of State in writing in advance too. The government must urgently explain what they knew and when.

“If P&O breached the law they must suffer severe consequences  – with ministers increasing the legal penalties if necessary. If one employer gets away with this, every worker is at risk.”

UPDATE 0740 Friday, March 18

Nautilus and RMT have called emergency demonstrations today in Dover, Liverpool and Hull against the sacking of 800 P&O workers over Zoom.

The demonstrations will take place at Dover at noon (meet Maritime House Snargate Street, Dover CT17 9BZ), Hull at noon (King George Dock, Hull HU9 5PR) and Liverpool at 1pm (min Liverpool Port entrance Liverpool L21 1LA ).

UPDATE 1853: P&O staff and other trades unionists will join demonstrations in Dover, Liverpool, and Hull tomorrow condemning P&O for sacking 800 staff.

The company, which is funded by the Dubai Royal Family, stunned workers in a pre-recorded Zoom call, when they informed staff that they were being dismissed and would be replaced by cheap agency labour from abroad.

When workers rightly refused to simply accept this despotic decision, private security staff with handcuffs, believed to have been hired by the company, began to drag workers off the ships.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “It is vital workers from every industry mobilise for the demonstrations on Friday. We need to send a message to ruthless employers and the government alike, that when working people are treated so abysmally, there is a militant response from the trade union movement.

“This example of gangster capitalism which our members in P&O have been subjected, is what lies ahead for other workers up and down the country if we do not all take a stand.”

Hull East MP Karl Turner said: “Join that protest tomorrow on King George Dock. If you’re a member of a trade union or a non-member, you must be a worker. Protect those jobs. These are decent people who tonight are looking at the possibility of being unemployed with a Zoom call this morning.

“The behaviour of P & O Ferries has been absolutely despicable. You’ve got to be here tomorrow. Come out here. Support these workers and show some solidarity.”

UPDATE 1736: The CWU has identified the mean who fired P&O workers on Zoom. A statement from the union to its members said:  “This is the manager who has sacked 800 P&O workers on the spot today via Zoom.

“His name is Andy Goode, a notorious union breaker. He worked for Royal Mail under Rico Back.
“Our union saw them both off because of your incredible support and actions like this show exactly what they wanted to do to our terms and conditions.
“We stand with every RMT member who is refusing to leave their workplace tonight. Solidarity forever.”

UPDATE 1645: Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This is a shocking move from P&O that should not be tolerated. Unite sends its solidarity to the seafaring crew, whose service as key workers during the pandemic has quickly been forgotten by P&O.

“We offer you our support as you seek to defend your jobs. It is a disgrace that any employer in the UK is able to treat its workers in this way.”

Unite’s national officer for docks and the maritime industry Bobby Morton said: “In a cut-throat sector, P&O was the last redoubt in the maritime industry, employing UK workers on UK contracts. This move today sends a very concerning signal that these standards are now under attack.

“While Unite’s members are not swept up in this announcement, this move will only bring uncertainty to all P&O workers. We urge the company to step back from this drastic, cost-cutting measure and work with all the P&O unions to save jobs.”

UPDATE 1612 Nautilus says staff on board the Highlander ferry operated by P&O at Cairnyan have been sworn at and told they have ten minutes to disembark.

UPDATE: 1536: RMT reports that security guards with handcuffs are boarding ships to remove crew as union calls for mass mobilisation

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are receiving reports that security guards at Dover are seeking to board ships with handcuffs to remove crew so they can be replaced with cheaper labour.

“We are seeking urgent legal action and are again calling for the government to take action to stop what is fast turning into one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.

“If this happens at P&O it can happen anywhere and we are calling for mass trade union and wider public mobilisation and protest against the company.”


You can watch the film here.

Unions have instructed members to remain on board P&O ferries after reports that hundreds of UK seafarers were to be sacked.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are deeply disturbed by growing speculation that the company are today planning to sack hundreds of UK seafarers and replace them with foreign labour.

“We have instructed our members to remain onboard and are demanding our members across P&O’s UK operations are protected and that the Secretary of State intervenes to save UK seafarers from the dole queue.”

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “The news that P&) Ferries is sacking the crew across its entire UK fleet is a betrayal of British workers. It is nothing short of scandalous given that this Dubai-owned company received millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money during the pandemic.

“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’ best interests to stay onboard until further notice.”

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