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21st Mar 2022

P&O will pay new workers as little as £1.80 an hour, unions claim

Ava Evans

Workers have gathered outside Parliament to protest last week’s impromptu sacking

Unions representing sacked P&O ferries staff claim new workers are being paid as little as £1.80 an hour, as former crew protested outside the House of Parliament on Monday.

“These weren’t just our jobs – these ships were our homes,” said Paul, who’d been working for P&O since 1996. “We spent more time on those vessels than we did with our friends and families.”

Paul, who did not give his surname, was one of around 300 former P&O workers to march from the offices of DP World, P&O Ferries’ owner, towards Parliament.

“Now that I’ve spoken out, I’ll be denied my severance pay,” he added. “But if they can do it to us, they can do it to anyone. Someone has to stand up for the workers.”

The RMT union, representing many of the 800 British P&O Ferries crew sacked last week, said new workers were being paid as little as £1.80 an hour.

While P&O refused to comment, it’s understood the Dubai-owned company had replaced workers through an Indian offshore agency – that would supply workers to operate the Dover-Calais route for as little as $2.38.

Speaking at the rally, Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner slammed the figure. “That’s worse than the Victoria era,” she said. “Let that sink in.”

Karl Turner, the member of Parliament for Hull, lambasted P&O for taking £15 million from the government in furlough payments.  

“Give it back,” he shouted, to the crowd. 

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn encouraged everyone to join a union: “This is Britain under Boris Johnson,” he said.

Labour will use an emergency vote in the Commons on Monday to demand justice for the sacked workers.

They will call on the government to ban “fire and rehire” practices, where firms make workers redundant and offer the same job on worse terms and conditions.

Labour will also demand that state contracts with P&O’s parent company, DP World, are suspended.

P&O has been contacted for comment.

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