The UK’s leading union has expressed its shock at the decision by P&O Ferries to dismiss its entire UK seafaring workforce to replace them with cheaper labour.
The ferry operator’s announcement (Thursday 17 March) has sent shockwaves around UK shipping, bringing key ports to a standstill and plunging the service into chaos.
Unite’s 160 members at P&O are not among those to lose their jobs but yesterday’s move, of which the trade unions were given no forewarning, is causing widespread unease and insecurity amongst members.
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.”
Bobby Morton, Unite’s national officer for docks and the maritime industry, added: “In a cut-throat sector, P&O was the last redoubt in the maritime industry, employing UK workers on UK contracts. This move 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.”