Our Ref SH/14/3
24th April 2020
IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS - P&O FERRIES
Further to my previous letter dated 21st April 2020 and in light of yesterday’s announcement to all employees by Janette Bell I thought I would take this opportunity to advise you that contrary to her statement there has been no dialogue with the RMT or other trade unions in recent weeks.
Your union has been requesting supporting documentation to support any cost saving initiatives and to date P&O have only produced one document on the 6th April 2020. Whilst your union was advised on the 14th April 2020 of a subsequent document being produced and a short period of time required to revise the content this has never materialised. The company also failed to respond to a number of emails and questions surrounding furlough and the withdrawal of the 45 day consultation.
Your union also is concerned by management’s inability to effectively communicate with the RMT whilst maintaining that the company and trades union must work together to overcome the current crisis.
Whilst a P&O spokesman stated in December 2019 that DP World has revenue totalling £2.3bn annually it remains a concern that a company the size of DP world has allowed P&O to be the subject of negative press surrounding vessel arrests in the Irish Sea. Today, the UK Government has announced that a £17 million support package for freight routes in the Irish Sea will be granted and P&O is expected to directly benefit from this remuneration.
We will be requesting that P&O seek to withdraw all overseas agency labour in the North Sea and repatriate them home. We will be demanding that only those Ratings on RMT terms and conditions remain in the workplace. We do not accept that P&O can claim money from the UK taxpayer for furloughed staff and seek to simply replace them with low cost labour for the duration of this contract. We are fully aware of P&O’s intent to have less UK seafarers and will not let Covid-19 be used as an excuse to allow this to happen.
Given the lack of effective communication from Janette Bell and the board of P&O we will be writing to DP World to raise our concerns regarding the conduct and responsibility of P&O and reminding them of their obligations to engage with the trades union at this important time.
I am aware that the company are sending representatives on-board vessels with a view to discussing working practices such as two week rotations within the Short Sea and would like to remind all members that no temporary agreements are in place at this and that your terms and conditions of employment have not been relaxed.
Whilst this is a concerning time for our members it is only for the resilience of the RMT that the company has not attempted to implement drastic changes already.
We will of course keep you fully updated of any developments over the coming weeks.