Our union has signed a letter of protest against the despicable actions of P&O and its parent company DP World in the immediate sacking of 800 seafarers last week and is urging members to do the same and also to boycott P&O.
The letter, organised by the International Transport Federation (ITF), calls the actions of DP World ‘callous and beyond contempt’. It continues: ‘this behaviour not only lacks any form of basic decency, but appears to be a flagrant violation of British labour law and international labour standards. Furthermore, the use of non-union replacement workers amounts to a fundamental breach of freedom of association and an attack on workers’ dignity. We can’t and won’t let this go unchallenged.’
Our general secretary Manuel Cortes has signed the letter on behalf of our union, but he’s urging you to sign as individuals and encourage friends and colleagues to do the same.
“This is about more than just solidarity” explained Manuel. “We were all shocked and outraged at what we saw last week. But the truth is that we have to take action to stop this scandalous behaviour in its tracks. If P&O gets away with this then it could spell disaster for so many more workers in a damaging race to the bottom that no one ever wants to see. The government must be held to account to act in workers’ interests – and with a Tory government in power that’s never an easy task.”
Protests were held at ports in Dover, Hull, Liverpool and Larne last Friday, as well as a demonstration outside DP World’s UK headquarters in London. It’s emerged that agency workers brought in to replace the sacked staff are being paid as little as £2.50 an hour. Further demonstrations are planned for this week.
On Monday 21 March, Labour shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh led an opposition day debate in which politicians lined up to condemn the behaviour of P&O and DP World. She slammed the government for sitting on its hands throughout the shocking events. “The livelihoods of 800 British workers were on the line from a scandalous act, by a rogue employer. And the government knew in advance. And they did nothing” she said.
A march led by P&O unions Nautlius International and the RMT, along with the TUC, took a route from DP World HQ to parliament ahead of the debate. Despite many Tory MPs apparently condemning the actions of P&O, they failed to vote to outlaw fire and rehire and abstained from the Labour motion which also called for the government to suspend DP World contracts and remove them from the government’s transport advisory group.
“The actions of Tory MPs in parliament yesterday speak louder than their words” commented Manuel Cortes. “They had a golden opportunity to take swift action against DP World via this Labour-led debate, but they failed. It’s clear to see the government is not on the side of the workers which is why we must keep up the pressure on them to act.”
On March 29, ITF General Secretary, Stephen Cotton is meeting with DP World, the owners of P&O in Dubai. At that meeting Stephen will deliver the Global Protest Letter to Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World, backed by hundreds of unions and thousands of workers.