Talks between RMT and P&O broke down because the company was “simply unprepared to change course from the illegal dismissal of 800 seafarers,” according to the union.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“From the outset the full obnoxiousness and hostility of the company towards their staff and the RMT was on display.
“P&O were not prepared to listen to any scenario or develop any idea that would provide a means to create a solution to the current disastrous situation.
“The meeting broke up inside 20 minutes as P&O were simply unprepared to change their course from the illegal dismissal of 800 seafarers.
“RMT will continue to press the government for an immediate intervention by whatever means necessary to make P&O perform a U-turn and get our members reinstated, as per Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ statement on BBC this morning.
“We also call on the entire labour movement, the public, the freight & logistics sector and the political community to support an immediate and total boycott of all P&O services.
“The people of the UK need to pull P&O to account and make sure that the law in the workplace is upheld, that British workers can have job security and decent pay, and that P&O workers get workplace justice.”
RMT has also launched a campaign of action against P&O’s supply chain and will hold a protest at Clyde Maritime Recruitment in Glasgow on Monday.
P&O is encountering resistance as some newly recruited crew members reportedly walked off P&O vessels when they discovered how they were being used as scab labour.
A recruitment agency is offering sacked marine officers £20,000 to take back their old P&O jobs because the company has been unable to fill them.
Coupled with the ferry firm’s need to train its new recruits in vital work including safety and rescue, the shortage of officers threatens to torpedo any hopes P&O had of getting all its ferries back into service in the immediate future.
Seven vessels are reported to be standing idle, costing P&O around £1 million a day, including the Pride of Hull ferry in Rotterdam.
Shameless P&O chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite admitted to a panel of MPs this week that the company knowingly broke the law by sacking the workers — and said he would do it again.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, backed by PM Boris Johnson, said he should quit following his “brazen” comments to the joint business and transport committee.
RMT has also demanded that the Scottish, Welsh and Westminster governments kick the firm’s Dubai-based parent company DP World out of “freeport” tax havens in Britain.
Freeports are protected from taxes and duties which apply in other ports.
DP World is involved in English freeports in the Thames and Solent. In Scotland taxpayers are expected to provide £25 million funding towards establishing a freeport and another is being planned for Wales.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said the three governments “must state that they will exclude DP World from the public funding and tax breaks that come with freeport status, unless our members are reinstated by P&O Ferries.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said it was a “watershed moment” for Britain’s shipping industry and workers’ rights.
She said DP World “must be given pariah status and lose all its government shipping and freeport contracts with immediate effect until workers are reinstated.”
Don’t go with P&O
The RMT has called for members of the public to show their revulsion at P&O’s behaviour by boycotting the company’s ferries under the slogan “Don’t go with P&O.”
As the CPBML rightly said: “all we can do is fight like our trade union ancestors. This is an attack on whole communities in our coastal towns. This will be a fight led by the trade unions in the shipping industry, but it will be supported by whole communities and the trade union movement.”.
Patrick Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, said: “P&O must be punished for their attack on British workers. We must break them. Those agencies supplying workers to P&O should also think carefully about the possible consequences to them. British workers need to ensure that their power is felt.”