Congress is shocked and appalled at P&O Ferries unfairly and unlawfully terminating the employment of 786 seafarers, without any notice by Zoom call and replacing them with below-minimum wage agency crew.
Congress notes P&O Ferries was in breach of multiple laws by their actions and expresses disgust at the comments of P&O chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite who told MPs that the company chose to break the law and would do it again.
Congress highlights its concern that other employers could see these actions as an opportunity to conduct themselves in a similar way. This could place in jeopardy long-established collective bargaining arrangements and statutory employment protections covering all workers across the UK.
Congress believes the actions of P&O Ferries brutally confirms a further shift in power in the workplace away from workers to employers. If a trade union inadvertently breaches anti-trade union legislation, employers rapidly achieve injunctions, yet no action could be taken to compel P&O Ferries to reverse the sackings, despite the prime minister promising this would happen.
Congress supports the work of TUC affiliates in calling for improvements to seafarer working protections, as well as wider employment protections in the UK, in particular welcoming the work undertaken in developing tripartite engagement and new legislation in defence of seafarers.
Congress is appalled that, instead of strengthening employments rights after the P&O scandal, the government has further weakened them by announcing proposals to allow agency workers to break strikes and massively increase the amounts unions can be fined for breaches of industrial action legislation. The government is also threatening to abolish rail workers’ rights to strike.
Congress applauds the immediate solidarity given by workers and unions in response to this appalling attack on our sisters and brothers.
Congress denounces the increasingly extremist rhetoric that has emerged during the Tory leadership election, which is designed as a further attack on the rights of working people to take industrial action.
Congress therefore calls for the strengthening of the rights of workers and unions including at freeports to be central to TUC campaigning as we approach the general election, including:
i. repeal of the anti-union laws
ii. introducing sectoral bargaining
iii. supporting the employment rights green paper
iv. giving unions strong powers to bring injunctions to prevent employers breaking employment law
v. ending the scourge of outsourcing and casualisation
vi. supporting the Fair Ferries strategy and framework agreements
vii. assisting affiliates in achieving measures that support domestically resident seafarer protection
viii. continuing efforts for increasing broader employment protections, including ending fire and rehire
ix. supporting stronger criminal and civil sanctions against employers who seek to circumvent due process
x. removing the cap on protective awards to prevent companies from being able to put a price on criminal conduct.
Congress calls on the General Council to defend the fundamental trade union right to strike from renewed Tory attacks.
Mover: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Seconder: Nautilus International
Supporters: UNISON; Fire Brigades Union