Save P&O Jobs – Save Britain’s Ferries Campaign Update

Circular No: NP/135/20




Our ref: S1/1


4th June 2020


Dear Colleagues


Save P&O Jobs – Save Britain’s Ferries Campaign Update


Further to Circular no. 121/20 of 22nd May 2020, I am writing to update you on the campaign to save 1,100 jobs at P&O Ferries, particularly On-Board Service (OBS) Ratings in Dover and Hull.


We are working with RMT Parliamentary Group MPs and others including the Shadow Shipping Minister, Mike Kane MP to apply more poilitical pressure on P&O Ferries and the Government to act to prevent these jobs from being lost. The Shipping Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP has publicly stated that P&O should make use of the furlough scheme until it expires at the end of October but this is unlikely to make much difference to the long term aims of owners DP World who have clearly identified P&O Ferries as a source of greater profit post-Covid.


P&O Ferries’ plans include replacement of directly employed, full time UK Ratings on the Pride of Hull with agency crew from the Philippines on contracts that pay a basic of £4.50 per hour and require 12 hour days, 7 days a week for up to 6 months. The Pride of Hull works between Hull and Rotterdam and would have a majority agency crew on board. P&O currently receive payments from the Government’s Critical Freight Grant on this route and we are demanding that the contract for this Public Service Obligation is published immediately, as the Government is legally obliged to do.


The Government must call P&O in and work with trade unions on a rescue package to stem job losses at P&O Ferries and ring fence future employment on their UK fleet for UK seafarers. The Government’s ‘Project Birch’ to prevent mass job losses in aviation and other strategically vital industries is an example of what can be done if there is political will to do it.


The strategic importance of all RMT members’ jobs in the roll-on roll-off ferry and other shipping sectors demands Government intervention when they are threatened and we are making these points to MPs on the Transport Select Committee who must call P&O Ferries in front of them as part of their current inquiry into the implications of the Coronavirus pandemic for transport workers.


We also continue to press the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to act over the threats to seafarer and maritime safety from P&O’s plans. The use of Flags of Convenience on P&O’s Dover (Cyprus) and Hull (Bahamas) ferries presents major safety issues as the maritime registers in those countries frequently undermine or bypass the MCA’s regulation of merchant shipping safety standards from UK ports.


An online meeting of over 70 people was held on 19th May for RMT members and the public in Hull to discuss P&O’s attacks on Ratings jobs  with a panel of RMT officials, local MPs, Councillors and the Trades Council. All present were united in supporting RMT members and their Union’s fight to stop these redundancies and any replacement of UK Ratings with exploited foreign crews at P&O Ferries.


A meeting was also held last week with the Tory MP for Dover, Natalie Elphicke to discuss how these job losses, over 600 of which affect Ratings on P&O’s remaining Dover-Calais fleet can be averted. The Dover MP supports the Union’s case and committed to persuade Ministers of the need for action to protect jobs. An online mass meeting with Dover members and local politicians is being arranged.


We expect to meet with the Shipping Minister shortly in order to submit RMT’s proposals for a rescue package and other measures that would prevent these seafarer job losses and the potentially disastrous effects on our members’ livelihoods and local economies.


Finally, the RMT’s online petition to save P&O jobs has received nearly 6,500 signatures and you are urged to sign this and circulate it if you have not already. Likewise, please write to your MP using the Union’s template letter if you have not already done so.


I would be grateful if you would share this update with all members in your branch or region and I will keep you informed of further developments in this campaign.


Yours sincerely


Mick Cash

General Secretary