800 P&O Ferries seafarers have been made redundant and are set to be replaced by cheaper agency staff a.k.a. scabs. They were made redundant with immediate effect via a pre-recorded video message: P&O Ferries: Sacked worker found out job was on the line via Whatsapp as staff protest in Dover. As soon as they were made redundant the seafarers were given just 10 minutes to leave the vessels they had been serving on. To ensure this happened, P&O Ferries hired ‘security staff’ a.k.a. thugs to deal with any resistance. Some of those seafarers had put in decades of service. That mattered not a jot to P&O Ferries who just saw the seafarers as nothing more than disposable units of labour.
This pretty much came out of the blue. Obviously there were spontaneous protests with roads being blocked and the captain of a P&O ferry up in Hull drawing up the boarding gangway and refusing to allow the security staff/thugs on board. All welcome gestures of defiance but given that P&O cynically used the element of surprise, there was no way effective resistance could be organised and implemented. Which is exactly what P&O intended.
The way P&O did this pretty much stretches what were already piss poor protections under current employment law to the limit. So far to the limit that even Tory ministers were giving the appearance of being shocked at how the seafarers were callously dismissed. Don’t be taken in by what are nothing more than crocodile tears from ministers who are worried about the public relations impact of capitalism revealing itself for what it actually is. Bear in mind that P&O are owned by DP World who are pretty flush with cash. It’s DP World who are the operators the the London Gateway superport which is just down the road from us.
Not only do P&O Ferries not give a shit about the seafarers they’ve thrown on the scrap heap, they don’t give a shit about their customers either. While the scabs are bedded into their roles, ferry services will remain suspended. That has shafted a lot of people who had booked to sail on ferries only to find they aren’t sailing and there’s little in the way of alternatives. It’s not just car drivers who are being hit by this, it’s truck drivers as well. Supply chains are already under pressure as a result of a complex range of factors – P&O’s actions in effectively shutting ferry services for a good few days will only exacerbate an already serious situation.
P&O Ferries have conducted themselves appallingly – if you think that there is such a thing as ethical corporations. If you’re as cynical as we are, all they’ve done is push the envelope a bit to see what they can get away with. If they get let off with a token fine, then other corporations will see that as a precedent and act accordingly. It’s business as per (the new) normal under dystopian capitalism. So, when it comes to fighting back against this, there’s absolutely no point in playing by rules which are designed to screw us other. It’s a case of fighting back by any means necessary as a precursor to sweeping this rotten system away, once and for all.