26th March 2020
IMPACT OF COVID-19 – P&O FERRIES
I am sure that you will be aware that P&O Ferries have suspended their tourist operation and non-essential support functions for a 45 day period. This will mean that some members will be stood down and sent home during the next 45 days. Your union has been in regular contact with P&O Ferries since the beginning of the health crisis. I can confirm that management has advised us that contractual sick pay will be guaranteed and basic salary will be continued to be paid when members are sent home. P&O will utilise the UK government scheme which will pay 80% of your salary and the company will pay the remaining 20%.
Additionally, I have also sought further guarantees from the company that P&O will not use the global health crisis as an excuse to lay off staff, make them redundant or cut wages. I want to ensure you that the RMT will continue to fight and represent our members' interests at all times and at all levels during this crisis. Your union is in active daily dialogue with the Department of Transport and the MCA to ensure that your safety, welfare and conditions of employment are protected. Additionally, I have written to the MCA asking for specific guidance on COVID-19 for seafarers and I shall circularise this guidance to members when it is received.
I have also sent a joint letter in to the Chancellor and the Shipping Minister, signed by the Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus International calling on the Government to make absolutely sure that our seafarers are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Seafarers will be critical in keeping the country going during the ongoing emergency and will remain so once we emerge from the other side of this global pandemic.
Finally, I would like to conclude by paying tribute to the work that you and your colleagues are undertaking at the moment. The current circumstances as you will be fully aware are unprecedented. The nation is relying on its seafarers to keep the vessels transporting the everyday essentials that the UK requires.
I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will write again when there are new developments.