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Union tells rally: our members were 'discarded like dirt' by P&O Ferries

21 March 2024

The government has been urged to fulfil its promises to protect seafarers made in the wake of the P&O Ferries scandal in which 786 crew lost their jobs.

Nautilus director of organising Martyn Gray told a rally attended by MPs and trade unionists to mark the second anniversary of the mass sackings that Nautilus members were 'discarded like dirt' and treated with contempt by the company.

Mr Gray criticised the Seafarers' Wages Act and voluntary Seafarers' Welfare Charter, brought in by the government, which lack sufficient legislative backing to address exploitation in the industry.

Despite admitting to breaking the law, P&O Ferries has to date faced no criminal or civil sanctions. The company's use of agency workers earning below minimum wage has drawn widespread condemnation from unions and politicians alike.

The 20 March rally was held in collaboration with Trades Union Congress (TUC), RMT union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

Labour MPs, including shadow employment rights minister Justin Madders and shadow maritime minister Mike Kane, participated in the demonstration, calling for stronger protections for workers and decisive action against corporate misconduct.

As the demonstration concluded, calls for accountability and justice echoed loudly, with organisers vowing to continue their efforts until meaningful reforms are implemented to safeguard the rights and livelihoods of seafarers.