We say “Lock up the bosses at P&O Ferries!” for breaching workers’ human rights.


Monday, 21 March 2022

Why haven’t these seafarers been protected by law?

Sacked seafarers replaced by low-cost foreign crews on a fraction of the UK National Minimum Wage


The Government knew days before – and did nothing!

 “The P&O sackings demonstrate how UK has become the worst in Europe for workers’ rights” said Martin Mayer, Secretary Sheffield Trade Union Council. “These bosses knew they could do it – and even informed the Government beforehand to tell them. Tory Ministers now cry crocodile tears for the sacked seafarers, but days later have still taken no action. Workers across the UK should take careful note of that”.

The Rail and Maritime Union (RMT) which represents the seafarers, (alongside NAUTILUS which represents sea officers) said “When workers rightly refused to simply accept this despotic decision, private security staff with handcuffs, believed to have been hired by the company, began to drag workers off the ships. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch has called for workers from every industry to mobilise in response. “We need to send a message to ruthless employers and the government alike, that when working people are treated so abysmally, there is a militant response from the trade union movement. This example of gangster capitalism which our members in P&O have been subjected, is what lies ahead for other workers up and down the country if we do not all take a stand.”

“Has it really come to this, that workers can be sacked by video call, hauled off their workplace by paid security thugs, only to be replaced by workers on as little as £1.82p per hours – well below the legal Minimum Wage – and for the Government to do nothing?” demanded Martin Mayer. “We now know that P&O informed the Government days before following newspaper reports of Whitehall memo which even went to the Prime Minister’s Office:

“We understand that P&O Ferries have an intention to try and re-employ many staff on new terms and conditions or use agency staff to restart routes; they estimate disruption to services lasting 10 days. Without these decisions an estimated 2,200 staff would likely lose their jobs. These changes will align them with other companies in the market who have undertaken a large reduction in staff.” 

“Meanwhile workers’ rights in the UK are the weakest in Europe, and what rights we do have are difficult to enforce,” said Martin Mayer. “We have a Tory Government that is clearly backing the bosses in whatever action they take in the name of profit, and to hell with workers rights” he said. “The Government blocked attempts by Labour MP Barry Gardiner to outlaw fire and rehire last year, and have never brought forward their promised legislation on employment rights. Couple this with a whole panoply of anti-union laws designed to stop unions organising and taking strike action, and it is clear this Tory Government is hostile to any legal protections for workers” he continued.

“We demand a complete overhaul of workers rights and trade union rights in this country,” said Martin Mayer. “In the case of P&O Ferries, we should lock up the bosses for breaching UK workers’ rights and take these important UK ferries back into public ownership.”


For comment please contact Martin Mayer on 0776 107 8482


Sheffield TUC says all workers should join a union, especially workers on low pay. Our Sheffield Needs a Pay Rise campaign is there to help. Low pay not only means workers cannot live to an acceptable standard, it makes our working-class communities poorer and is bad for the local economy. For Sheffield to prosper we must end low pay now! We are helping to fund a Union Organiser in Sheffield with our partner the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union to help low paid workers get organised and fight to raise their pay and conditions, including by strike action.