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10,000 transport workers call for reinstatement of P&O Ferries seafarers

30 March 2022

Nautilus has added its support to a call by more than 10,000 transport workers for the immediate reinstatement of 800 seafarers sacked by P&O Ferries.

The workers, from almost 200 ITF-affiliated unions worldwide, expressed their outrage at the mass sacking and outsourcing of 800 P&O Ferries seafarers through a 'Global Letter of Protest' which has been handed over to the global leadership of DP World, the owner of P&O Ferries.

The letter also demands DP World urgently convene a meeting with the two unions involved in the dispute, Nautilus International and the RMT, together with the UK government, to rectify the current situation, and commit to respecting workers' rights and engaging with unions across its global operations.

ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton, who is leading the global unions' delegation in Dubai, delivered the letter on 29 March addressed to the CEO of DP World, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.

'Over the past two weeks, we've seen protests at P&O Ferries ports from Dover to Hull, and across Europe from Dublin to Rotterdam in solidarity with these workers,' said Mr Cotton. 'Today we took the shock and condemnation of the world's transport workers and their supporters directly to the global headquarters of DP World.

'Transport employers across the world should watch this dispute carefully. This fight that is playing out across the ports of the UK is not just about the illegal firing of 800 seafarers, but a fight about respect and the future of the rights of seafarers globally. It is not something that the ITF, the ETF, and our affiliates take lightly.'

The 'staggering admission' from P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite that the company acted illegally when firing these workers should be cause for the immediate reinstatement of these workers, said Mr Cotton.

European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) general secretary Livia Spera commented: 'The fact that despite admitting to their illegality, P&O and its owner DP World, can continue to refuse to reinstate these workers, and even say they'd do it again, should send alarm bells ringing for governments across Europe, but also everywhere DP World operates.

'If governments cannot protect their people and hold corporations accountable, it raises serious questions about who is in charge,' she added.

The letter demands:

  • DP World treat these workers with dignity, respect the laws that protect their rights
  • urgently convene a meeting with the two unions, Nautilus International and the RMT, together with the UK government, to rectify the current situation
  • guarantee that this will not happen in any other DP World wholly owned subsidiary and that the company will uphold its ESG commitment to the principles of the UN Global Compact, behave equitably, and show respect to all workers in its supply chain
  • commit to social dialogue, respectful industrial relations and to develop a closer relationship with the ITF and its affiliates across all DP World-owned subsidiaries that ensures that no worker should ever endure being sacked via Zoom again
This fight that is playing out across the ports of the UK is not just about the illegal firing of 800 seafarers, but a fight about respect and the future of the rights of seafarers globally ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton

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