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P&O Ferries: Sacked worker says he found out he’d lost his job via Whatsapp as staff protest in Dover

The i 18/03/2022 Joe-duggan

A sacked P&O Ferries worker has said he was “appalled” after finding out out he had lost his job via Whatsapp while out shopping yesterday.

The 55-year-old who had worked for P&O Ferries for 11 years told i he received a Whatsapp message while at the supermarket alerting him to mass sacking of 800 workers.

He was one of hundreds of people attending demonstrations around the UK today protesting against the firm’s handling of the redundancies.

The man, who preferred not to give his name as he did not want his redundancy package to be affected, worked as a steward with P&O Ferries.

He said sacked seafarers had been offered 13 weeks pay in lieu of notice, with two and a half weeks pay for each year of service as their redundancy package.

Failure to accept the terms by 31 March meant staff would be handed statutory redundancy payout, he said.

Speaking to i from a protest in Dover, he said: “I had absolutely no prior warning. It’s awful. To get no notice that this was happening until yesterday morning is pretty appalling.”

The mass sackings were carried out using a pre-recorded video message yesterday with agency workers employed from abroad waiting to board P&O’s ships to take their place.

Another of the sacked P&O seafarers said he was “disgusted” by the company’s actions and called on the Government to step in. He branded security guards who boarded vessels to remove workers as “hired thugs”.

The worker, 46, told i: “There was busloads of replacement workers that arrived at the gangway with nothing more but hired security thugs.

“They told them they had 10 minutes to get off the vessel. These guys have been living on the ship for a week so it is like their second home It is disgusting.

“These hired thugs turned up with handcuffs and first aiders expecting trouble.

“We have got people here that have worked for from five years to 40. We are supposed to be a UK seafaring nation. They have replaced us with foreign cheap labour after taking mind of pounds of furlough.

“We need political intervention. The Tories can’t sit on their hands. They should hold P&O to taask they shoiid remove their operating licence and nationalise them. They are no longer fit to run a company.”

Around 200 demonstrators marched in protest in Dover today against the sacking of the P&O Ferries workers. Protests were also being held in Liverpool, London and Hull.

Seafarers who had lost their jobs and other protesters gathered outside the National Union of Rail Maritime and Transport Workers office before heading towards the Port of Dover.

Demonstrators blocked the entrance of the port at the A20 for about 40 minutes, causing a tailback of traffic, as they heard speeches from RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch and other union officials calling for workers to be reinstated.

In angry scenes before the march, Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, was heckled by angry demonstrators who chanted “shame on you” as they accused her of not backing the cross-channel operator’s workers.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer held a video call with RMT members before today’s demonstration.

Outsider the RMT headquarters in Dover, Ms Elphicke said P&O workers had been “stabbed in the dark” and called for the jobs reversal to be overturned.

She insisted the Government had been unaware of the job cuts prior to yesterday’s announcement, which left staff stunned as they learned of their sacking in a pre-recorded video message.

She said: “They need to reinstate these jobs and they need to support the workers and the people of Dover the way we have supported them for decades.

“The maritime minister made it clear in Parliament yesterday the government had been blindsided by this as much as the rest of us.

“It is an absolute disgrace the way P&O and DP World have behaved. They should change their decision if they want people to be travelling with P&O again.

“I think it was appalling that we had a situation where people with hhandcuffs were trying to take people forcibly off the boats.”

Addressing the crowd, Mick Lynch, Secretary General for the RMT, attacked the “ruthlessness” with which the redundancies had been carried out and said “40 years of anti trade union laws” had led to “gangster capitalism”.

He called for the three P&O ferries currently docked at Dover to be seized by the government.

Demonstrators clutched banners and placards demanding “Stop the P&O jobs carve up” and for P&O to be nationalised.

Banners from the Fire Brigade’s Union, Unite the Union and SOAS were among those being wielded by protesters.


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