29 April 2020
RMT Press Office:
On day owners in Dubai are set to pay hundreds of millions in dividends RMT calls for P&O Ferries to be nationalised to protect UK seafarer jobs and strategic supply route.
FERRIES’ UNION RMT today called for P&O Ferries to be nationalised on the day parent company DP World is set to make a £270m dividend payment to private shareholders.
To keep 1,400 key workers - seafarers, dockers and other staff - at P&O Ferries employed, the taxpayer is already forking out over £10m to meet 80% of their wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. More public funds will be released shortly to support operators of major ferry routes from the UK to the Continent during the Coronavirus crisis and P&O Ferries are expected to bid for this too.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Today P&O owners DP World, which is owned by the Government of Dubai, will pay £270m dividend to shareholders while at the same time demanding another £150m from the British taxpayer to keep their operation going.
“During the Covid crisis we simply cannot afford to have the UK’s ability to be supported by key shipping services being held to ransom by a corporate foreign owner.
“The UK government needs to act in the national interest and take public control of this vital service or at the very least take a significant public stake.
“Furlough and other public support to the ferries sector is welcome in the short term but the UK Government must take steps now to secure employment of UK Seafarers and strategic control in the maritime supply chain.”
Notes to Editors
P&O Ferries is owned by DP World, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. According to the DP World Annual Report 2019 (Page 6): “The Board is recommending a final dividend of $332.0 million [£270.12m by today’s exchange rate] or 40.0 US cents per share. Subject to shareholder approval, the dividend will be paid on 29 April 2020 to shareholders on the register at the close of business on 26 March 2020. - SULTAN AHMED BIN SULAYEM This is confirmed on the DP World website and will be paid 29 April 2020: https://www.dpworld.com/investors/shares/dividends-and-corporate-actions
DP World is owned by Port & Free Zone World which is owned by the Dubai Government.
P&O Ferries Limited previously issued a ‘Consultation’ document to RMT which demands a huge range of changes to jobs and terms and conditions for Ratings covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement between the company and the RMT. The consultation document states:
“Our 2019 people cost of £142m must be reduced by 20% [£28.4m]. This must be found from wage costs, our operating model and the terms and conditions of employment.
“As we move into the consultation process, please keep in your mind: nobody is going to bail us out and any bills deferred now will have to be paid in the future.”
The document also states the companies intention to replace UK seafarers in night crossings from UK ports and to ‘re-organise’ On-Board Service’ jobs on Hull-Zeebrugge/Rotterdam ferries.