Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 52 Number 7, April 2, 2022 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Workers' Movement

P&O Ferries. A Line in the Sand

Executive Summary of TUC Report, March 25, 2022

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The P&O Ferries scandal shows the need for government to step in and act as the operator of last resort in the ferry industry.

As an island nation, ferry operators play a vital role in facilitating trade and prosperity in the UK, connecting Britain to business across the world. When these services breakdown, we risk supply chain disruption, shortages of essential goods and passengers left stranded.

P&O Ferries have contravened UK employment law, failing to provide any notice that redundancies were being considered. And by not consulting with the recognised trade unions: Nautilus International and RMT.

Ferries need a high level of competence and care in their operation. Without these, the consequences can be tragic. P&O Ferries have replaced skilled and experienced crew with low-paid, inexperienced workers unfamiliar with the ferries they are manning, at significant risk to passenger safety.

P&O Ferries' reliance on recruiting agency workers well below the minimum wage in order to operate demonstrates it is not a viable or sustainable financial operation.

This is a watershed moment for the UK shipping industry and for workers' rights in Britain. Ministers must be prepared to step in to run services if a "fit and proper" operator cannot be found quickly to replace P&O Ferries.

Key issues of concern

TUC recommendations for action

1. P&O Ferries must reinstate all 800 staff and enter discussion with their trade unions.

If they fail to do this:

2. Government must be ready to run ferry services as the operator of last resort, if a "fit and proper" operator cannot be found.

The government should also take action to:

3. Remove DP World's licence to operate in the UK and they must be expelled from all free ports

4. Remove DP World from its Transport Advisory Group - and any other government advisory groups.

5. Bring forward an employment bill to ban exploitative working practices and increase penalties for breaking employment law.


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