Protest today at P&O ferry sackings!

Maritime union RMT will be joining protesters outside the Dubai-owned company HQ on Thursday 21st April at 5pm.

Organised by the International Transport Federation in London outside the offices of DP World, 16 Palace Street London SW1E 5JQ, RMT activists will be keeping up their “Fair Ferries campaign” and calling for the re-instatement of all 800 sacked seafarers.

ITF inspectors were scheduled to investigate welfare issues at the Port of Dover earlier this week following reports of bad practices on P&O vessels. However, they were denied access by the Port Police despite giving advanced warning of their visit.

The inspectors involved said it was an unprecedented situation and the first time they’d been blocked from investigating welfare issues in 17 years.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “P&O are running a pirate outfit staffed by undertrained, ill prepared and super exploited agency workers making their ferries unsafe for the travelling public to use. The contempt that the company have for both staff and passengers alike is underlined by the Easter travel chaos at UK ports that their illegal actions have unleashed.

“We are gathering support from all political parties, passengers, commercial hauliers the wider trade union movement, and businesses across the supply chain in this continuing battle for justice. The union’s Fair Ferries campaign is fighting to ensure that the ruthless behaviour of P&O cannot happen again in the maritime industry or anywhere else.”

The protest follows a series of actions earlier this month in Liverpool, Hull, Cairnryan, Dover and elsewhere.

Several P&O Ferries were unable to sail following the sacking of 800 P&O staff on 17th March. Ships were found to not be seaworthy due to agency crews not being familiar with the vessels, a lack of competency around fire safety and emergency evacuation, firefighting equipment that is not fit for purpose, and deficient structural integrity levels.

P&O tried to claim that the callous and unlawful act of sacking 800 staff was to “minimise disruption to the vital services we run on major sea routes.” In fact, massive tailbacks and delays hit hauliers and ferry services from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque since P&O took this illegal action, which the Insolvency Service is investigating for criminal and civil offences which may have been committed.

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary responded: “P&O’s claim that they had to sack our members on grounds of efficiency was always a ludicrous claim and has now been entirely blown out of the water. The Sultan of Dubai who owns P&O ferries is being allowed to hold this country to ransom because the government refuses to take over the running of the company and put the 800 sacked staff back to work to safely operate those vessels.

“The government must apply economic sanctions to P&O for the cost of their destructive actions and we need a Fair Ferries agreement in order to avoid any repeat of this type of gangster capitalist behaviour in the future.”

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