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To: UK Government

P&O Ferries' jobs massacre second anniversary: Never again!

Sunday 17th March 2024 marks two years since P&O Ferries’ mass-sacking of 786 directly-employed UK seafarers in the most egregious act of corporate vandalism in recent history.

Formed by Royal Charter in the 1840s, P&O Ferries sacked its seafarers after decades of loyal service without consultation or notice, in breach of UK and international law, replacing them with agency crew recruited from overseas, some paid well below the UK minimum wage to work for months at sea without shore leave.

These shocking actions were made worse by P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite’s arrogant testimony to a committee of cross-party MPs that he would make the same decision again. P&O Ferries’ parent company DP World also described Hebblethwaite’s actions as an ‘amazing job.’

On 30 March 2022, then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced to MPs in the House of Commons: “a package of nine measures that will force it [P&O Ferries] to fundamentally rethink its decision and send a clear message to the maritime industry that we will not allow this to happen again…where new laws are needed, we will create them…where legal loopholes are cynically exploited, we will close them, and that where employment rights are too weak, we will strengthen them.” Those nine measures have failed to deliver the protections or to close the loopholes that would allow another P&O Ferries to happen to our seafarers and to coastal communities.

Government introduced the Seafarers’ Wages Act last year. The Act requires operators of services calling 120 times or more per year to pay crew at least the National Minimum Wage for work within UK waters. This does nothing to prevent P&O Ferries and other operators from hiring agency seafarers on appalling rates of pay, roster patterns and wider employment rights, even in the Channel.

A voluntary Seafarers Charter was launched in July 2023 covering wider employment conditions including roster patterns, employment rights, pensions and training but this has been completely ignored by P&O Ferries, despite the Transport Select Committee of cross-party MPs calling on the Government to make the Seafarers Charter mandatory.

The legal loopholes in the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 P&O Ferries exploited have not been closed, the Insolvency Service let P&O Ferries off criminal prosecution, employment conditions for P&O Ferries agency crew have further deteriorated, fire and re-hire has not been banned and the Government has continued to spend taxpayers money on P&O Ferries.

We are calling on current and future Governments to take actions to prevent another P&O Ferries:

• A mandatory Seafarers Charter
• Close legal loopholes in the TULRC Act 1992
• A New Deal for Seafarers
• Fair Pay Agreements on international ferry routes
• Strengthen the Insolvency Service’s public interest test
• Outlaw fire and rehire

Why is this important?

We must prevent a repeat of the P&O Ferries scandal. The Government has failed to introduce the reforms required to end the undercutting of other ferry operators on international short sea routes from UK ports which would prevent a repeat of this scandalous attack on UK seafarers and on the sovereignty of UK employment law.

United Kingdom

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2024-03-18 09:24:08 +0000

50,000 signatures reached

2024-03-15 09:16:17 +0000

100 signatures reached

2024-03-14 17:57:42 +0000

50 signatures reached

2024-03-14 17:01:38 +0000

25 signatures reached

2024-03-14 13:20:34 +0000

10 signatures reached