MARITIME Union RMT today reacted with fury at P&O Ferries proposals for restructuring the business during the Coronavirus pandemic.
In a consultation document issued to RMT, the union organising Seafarer Ratings on P&O Ferries’ Irish Sea, North Sea and Dover-Calais fleet, the company proposes a series of changes to Ratings’ terms and conditions, including pay cuts, replacement of UK seafarers with foreign crew, no strike clauses, statutory redundancy, cuts to the sick pay scheme, scrapping benefits for long service, leave restrictions.
The company is attempting to apply all re-negotiated crewing and terms and conditions including on new ferries they have ordered from China that were due for delivery in 2023 and 2024. P&O Ferries Limited’s ultimate owner is the global corporation, DP World, based in the United Arab Emirates.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:
“Threatening permanent cuts to seafarers jobs, pay and conditions and the maritime supply chain at a time of national crisis sends a message of utter contempt to my members and the country as a whole.
“Job cuts, pay cuts, taking annual leave in rest periods, replacing UK seafarers with cheaper foreign crews, statutory redundancy, cuts to sick pay – it’s all of the things that P&O Ferries have always wanted to do to our members and the UK economy.
“To use the temporary market conditions created by the Coronavirus to attack our members, the maritime workers this country will always need, is nothing short of contemptuous and the Government need to step in here to provide more guarantees to protect British seafarers’ jobs and apprenticeships for the future.
“P&O Ferries say that no one is going to bail them out. Maybe they should go back to their corporate masters at DP World in Dubai who will pay a $332m dividend to private shareholders on 29 April. That would easily cover the £28.4m P&O Ferries want to rip out of the hands of my hard working members and their families.
“If P&O think that holding a gun to our members heads whilst sprinting towards the cliff edge is ‘consultation,’ then they’ve got another thing coming.”
Notes to Editors
1. P&O Ferries Limited issued a ‘Consultation’ document to RMT last night which demands a huge range of changes to jobs and terms and conditions for Ratings covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the company and the RMT. The consultation document states:
“Our 2019 people cost of £142m must be reduced by 20% [£28.4m]. This must be found from wage costs, our operating model and the terms and conditions of employment.
“As we move into the consultation process, please keep in your mind: nobody is going to bail us out and any bills deferred now will have to be paid in the future.”
2. P&O Ferries is owned by DP World, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. According to the DP World Annual Report 2019 (Page 6): “The Board is recommending a final dividend of $332.0 million [£270.12m by today’s exchange rate] or 40.0 US cents per share. Subject to shareholder approval, the dividend will be paid on 29 April 2020 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on 26 March 2020. – SULTAN AHMED BIN SULAYEM This is confirmed on the DP World website:
3. The UK Government has yet to confirm whether UK-based seafarers employed by offshore entities, such as P&O Ferries (Jersey) will be eligible for support paying 80% of wages for furloughed staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.