UK: Unions demand government action following P&O Ferries scandal

On the second anniversary of the P&O Ferries mass sackings scandal, unions are urging the government to take action to protect seafarers and prevent similar incidents. The controversial mass dismissal saw 786 British crew members lose their jobs in favor of low-paid agency staff. Despite admitting to illegal actions, P&O Ferries continues to operate without consequence.
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Unions are calling on the government to take action two years after the P&O Ferries mass sackings scandal, where 786 British crew members lost their jobs to low-paid agency staff. Despite admitting to illegal actions, the company has faced no consequences and continues to operate without repercussions. Unions like the TUC, Nautilus International, and the RMT have criticized the government for not closing legal loopholes exploited by P&O Ferries or sanctioning the company and its owner, DP World.

The unions are urging for a mandatory seafarers’ charter to protect workers in the maritime industry and hold bad actors accountable. Proposed reforms, such as a weak code of practice on fire-and-rehire and a non-mandatory welfare charter, are seen as insufficient in addressing the systemic issues at play. P&O Ferries has hired low-paid crew from around the world on short-term contracts, bypassing legal obligations, while its CEO remains in his position despite breaking the law.

The government has highlighted efforts to strengthen seafarer rights, including consultations with industry and unions to implement robust legislation. The Seafarers’ Wages Act, expected to come into force in the summer, aims to establish an international minimum wage corridor across the Dover Strait. However, concrete actions have yet to materialize, leaving seafarers vulnerable to exploitation and unfair treatment in the industry.

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