Protests at UK ports as calls grow for P&O Ferries boss to quit over mass sackings



Protests are taking place at UK ports over sacking of 80 P&O Ferries seafarers, as calls grow for the company’s boss to quit.

Protesters gathered in Liverpool, Dover and Hull on Saturday as the RMT union urged a stop to what it called the “P&O jobs massacre”.

The demonstrations come after a ship operated by the ferry firm was detained for being “unfit to sail” on Friday.

The European Causeway vessel has been held at the port of Larne in Northern Ireland due to “failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training”, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he will not compromise the safety of P&O vessels and insisted that the company will not be able to rush training for inexperienced people.

Hundreds march in a demonstration against P&O Ferries mass sacking

(PA)

Demonstrators chanted “P&O, shame on you” as they marched along a street in Liverpool on Saturday, with more than 100 turning out, according to the RMT. The union added it welcomed the detention of the European Causeway and it demanded the government “seize the entire fleet” of P&O vessels.

In Dover there were similar scenes as crowds carried banners and placards calling for an end to the “P&O jobs carve up”.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) tweeted a video they said showed P&O dockers in Rotterdam refusing to load freight onto a ferry set for Hull “in solidarity with the 800 seafarers illegally sacked by P&O.”

Meanwhile, Irish trade union workers gathered at Dublin Port outside the P&O terminal to send support from across the Irish Sea to P&O staff.

The rally, organized by trade union Siptu, was attended by the new Irish Labor Party leader Ivana Bacik, and organizer Jim McVeigh told PA news agency that the rally was intended to “send solidarity”.

People take part in a demonstration against the dismissal of P&O workers organized by the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union

(PA)

He added: “The best thing we could do was to have a rally at Dublin Port outside P&O so they know our concerns.”

UK Labor has written to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng asking whether the government will seek the removal of P&O Ferries’ chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite as a director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986.

In a letter, the party accused the government of “sitting on their hands” rather than taking action to hold P&O to account, adding that the “toothless response risks giving the green light to exploitation”.

The P&O Ferries operated European Causeway vessel in dock at the Port of Larne, Co Antrim, where it has been detained by authorities for being “unfit to sail”.

(PA)

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the “shameful misconduct of P&O Ferries has ruined livelihoods” as she called for the sacked workers to be reinstated and for Mr Hebblethwaite to be “barred” as a director for his role in the crisis.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed Mr Shapps’ call for Mr Hebblethwaite to quit.

The chief executive of P&O Ferries this week admitted the firm knowingly broke the law by choosing not to consult over the mass sacking of 800 workers, who the firm is replacing with agency staff paid less than the UK minimum wage.

He told MPs on Thursday there was “absolutely no doubt” the company was required to consult with unions before taking action.

Additional reporting by PA


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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