At a meeting of the Transport Select Committee this morning, Grahame Morris MP questioned Transport Secretary Grant Shapps about the planned redundancies of 1,100 P&O staff.
The Easington MP said, “P&O Ferries announced plans on 11th May to cut over 1,000 seafarer and port-related jobs… They are making these cuts to UK jobs after taking millions of pounds from the taxpayer through furlough and freight grant support, and paying substantial dividends to their parent company.
“It’s actually worse than BA because, apart from making the redundancies, they’re also exploiting existing legislation that allows them to retain Filipino crew who are paid £4.50/hour.”
Mr Morris asked the Transport Secretary, “Don’t you think that there’s a case, even outside Covid-19, for reviewing the employment terms of seafarers to prevent companies like P&O…from employing seafarers from overseas on lower rates of pay than UK based seafarers?”
Grant Shapps replied: “I checked back specifically whether what was happening [P&O Ferries paying Filipino seafarer £4.50 per hour] adhered to the law, both UK and European. It did. And actually we were bound up in….international maritime law and it is not within our direct remit, not without altering international agreements. But I think that forever we should be driving up standards…”
RMT Senior Assistant general Secretary Mick Lynch has responded to Mr Shapps’ comments. He said:
“On the day P&O Ferries ends its consultation, seafarers in Dover and Hull will be shocked to learn that they will be thrown on the scrapheap with the blessing of this Government, as well as P&O’s owners in the Government of Dubai whilst non-UK crew on pay below the National Living Wage keep their jobs.
“As an island nation, we need a Government that invests in our maritime future or our economy will not recover from Covid-19. UK seafarers must increase as part of any recovery and Grant Shapps must look again at intervening to stop P&O from attacking British jobs.”