RMT responds to P&O opening new freight route

RMT responds to P&O opening new freight route

9 January 2024

RMT Press Office:

Seafarer Union RMT today responded to disgraced P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite’s announcement of a new freight route between the Thames Freeport and Europoort in Rotterdam.

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary said: “The Government’s weak response to P&O Ferries slashing 786 seafarer jobs in March 2022 means that the Dutch flagged ferry on this new route will not recover jobs for our members or tackle local economic deprivation.
"P&O continues to deny their pension liabilities to UK seafarers and have even attacked dockers’ jobs in Rotterdam, where we expect this proposal to be equally controversial.
"Clearly, the Government’s Seafarers Wages Act and its voluntary Seafarers Charter have had no effect on P&O’s policy of exploting workers for private profit in Dubai and the fact that this route is in the Thames Freeport in which DP World has a significant stake, tell us the Government prioritises big business over the needs of working people.
"The Government must demand a review of the employment conditions on this new route but to break the business model of rogue operators like P&O, we need a New Deal for workers that extends mandatory rights to fair pay agreements, safe working patterns and secure pension rights on short sea shipping routes.”



  1. P&O Ferries announced earlier today that they will be opening a new freight route in March between Tilbury 2 and Europoort in Rotterdam. 
  2. On 17 March 2022, P&O Ferries dismissed 786 directly employed UK seafarers with immediate effect, marching them off the ship and replacing them that day with agency crew recruited on the international labour market for rates of pay well below the UK National Minimum Wage and for longer voyage only contracts.
  3. The Government introduced the Seafarers Wages Act which is not fully in force but will only require payment of an equivalent to the NMW for work done in UK territorial waters if the ship calls at a UK port 120 times per year. A voluntary Seafarers Charter was introduced in July which P&O Ferries, Irish Ferries and other exploitative operators have ignored.
  4. The Dutch flagged Norbay vessel will be used on the new route, having been transferred from the Liverpool-Dublin route that P&O Ferries scrapped last December.
  5. Tilbury 2 is owned by Forth Ports and is within the Thames Freeport https://www.forthports.co.uk/freeports/ DP World owned London Gateway is also in the Thames Freeport.
  6. Tilbury contains child poverty rates of 56.4% https://www.thurrock.gov.uk/thurrock-facts-and-statistics/children-and-young-people

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