Let’s really take back control


The P&O scandal follows the pattern of the sell-out of British workers. It’s sadly nothing new. The EU was subservient to transnational capital and, so far, the story of post-Brexit Britain isn’t looking that good either.

One of the landmark decisions of the European Court of Justice was the Viking case.

Viking is a Finnish ferry company. In 2004, when Estonia joined the EU, it took advantage of the EU’s single market to sack all its workers and employ Estonian ones on cheaper wages.

The Court of Justice stood by Viking, along the way ruling that the right to strike did not apply if a strike against the “free movement” of capital and labour had a chance of succeeding.

That sad story was a major reason why leading trade union barrister John Hendy called the EU “a disaster for the collective rights of workers and their unions”.

Fastforward to the present day and far from taking back control for the people it is multinational capital who call the shots.

P&O Ferries sacked its British staff to employ foreign workers. The 800 workers were sacked on 17 March in a Zoom call with thirty minutes notice. Replacement crews with cheaper foreign labour (paid an average of £5.50 an hour) had already been hired through agencies. DP World is the parent company of P&O Ferries and it, in turn, is owned by the UAE government. Trade unions are forbidden in the UAE.

As Workers magazine correctly states:

“The idea of taking control was the guiding spirit of the movement that won the referendum to take Britain out of the European Union. The idea was both powerful and clear: Britain should be free from the European single market, which imposes free movement of capital, goods, and labour.

Britain has now left the European Union after a long struggle to implement the decision. But there’s no sign of the greater control that millions of people were waiting for. Quite the reverse – in area after area the government is handing control to the unregulated free market.”

The RMT and Nautilus International, the trade unions representing workers sacked by P&O continue their campaign with pickets at ports and elsewhere. Unions have also called for a consumer boycott of P&O. This boycott is supported by the wider union movement, including your union, Solidarity. No honest working man or woman should use P&O ferries.

It’s the ordinary British Worker who must step-up and make taking back control real. It means increasing British self-sufficiency, growing our technology sovereignty, and advocating nationalisation where appropriate. We must organise as workers but also as consumers by boycotting the bad and buying the good. We must also bring political pressure to bear to ensure that the voice of the British worker is heard loud and clear. Solidarity is a small union, but we will do everything in our power to make this happen and we call on our brothers and sisters in other unions and all those who want our country to succeed to act too. Together we are strong!



Pro-Breixt fire union official unfairly sacked, tribunal finds

Paul Embery has won a claim for unfair dismissal against the Fire Brigades Union – FBU.

He was sacked in relation to a speech he gave in a personal capacity (not as an FBU representative) and in his own private time to a pro-Brexit rally outside parliament in 2019.
Norwich Employment Tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed after a “witch hunt” with a pre-determined outcome.

The tribunal heard there had been regular disagreements between Mr. Embery and FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack over the issue of Brexit. Mr. Embery was warned of reprisals and at one point accused of siding with the ‘far right‘.

The conflict appeared to come to a head as Mr. Embery planned to attend the Leave Means Leave rally in Parliament Square.

Before the rally, the tribunal heard Mr. Embery was told by FBU President Ian Murray that he should not attend as a speaker and that to do so could breach the union’s policy against Brexit, which passed in 2016.

Mr. Murray was also said to have suggested it could contravene a statement prohibiting FBU officials from campaigning with political opponents during the referendum campaign.

Mr. Embery believed Mr. Murray was wrong, and that the policy had lapsed once the referendum was held, the tribunal was told.

The activist was introduced at the rally as an organiser of Trade Unions Against the European Union and used a speech to describe a battle to defend the principle of democracy, after a majority voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

Mr. Embery said in the speech that the “message to the leaders of my movement is, if you want to stay relevant, then it’s about time you put yourself on the side of the people over the establishment and big business, and you better do that damn quickly“.

This is a great victory – on a personal level – for Paul Embery. It’s also a great victory for democracy and the right of ordinary workers & trade unionists to openly speak their minds. Whatever union policy is members and officials should be able to publicly disagree as long as they make it clear that it is their personal view and that they are not speaking on behalf of the union.