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On Saturday 18 June, Nautilus general secretary Mark DIckinson addressed thousands of union supports at the TUC's 'We Demand Better' rally in Parliament Square. He called for workers to be urgently granted proper employment protections after the weakness of existing laws was brutally exposed by the management of P&O Ferries, who chose to sack and replace the company's entire UK workforce
'A little over three months ago, 786 loyal and dedicated seafarers were disgracefully and illegally sacked by P&O Ferries. Sacked without any notice or consultation. Not made redundant; sacked.
'786 people with families to care for and bills to pay saw their jobs cruelly taken from them in the space of a three-minute pre-recorded video message. That’s right, P&O Ferries couldn’t even look their workers in the eyes as they sacked them.
'Friends, following the news that our members were sacked with immediate effect, adding further to the contempt P&O Ferries held their workers, they employed handcuff-trained security personnel, some wearing balaclavas, to force crew off their vessels, treating them as nothing less than common criminals.
P&O Ferries should be a warning to every single one of us. This isn’t just one bad apple. The weak employment laws in this country and the further restrictions on the work of unions must be addressed.
'Except it wasn’t Nautilus or RMT members who broke the law, it was P&O Ferries and their CEO Peter Hebblethwaite! He even admitted to breaking the law when he was hauled in front of a parliamentary select committee, and what’s worse, he said he would do so again. No shame, no regret!
'P&O Ferries’ disgraceful actions have turbo charged the race to the bottom in pay and working conditions of seafarers in the UK and beyond. We must not let this happen again.
'We will continue to fight for our members and all seafarers. For justice, and for accountability in the board rooms.
'Our message is clear: we must end exploitation in our waters! The time for talking is over, the time for action is now!
'Friends, P&O Ferries should be a warning to every single one of us. This isn’t just one bad apple. The weak employment laws in this country and the further restrictions on the work of unions must be addressed.
'P&O Ferries must be a turning point. We need a new deal for workers in this country. We must join forces across the trade union movement and demand stronger collective bargaining rights and an end to exploitative employment practices like fire and rehire.
'We can only do this together. We demand better. Are you with us?'