Recently, P&O Ferries laid off 800 members of staff without a moment’s notice over a video call. While this has been widely condemned as both immoral and illegal, P&O have continued to refuse to reinstate the sacked workers. This is the latest in a string of brutal mass sackings and fire and rehire schemes, which will become increasingly common unless organised labour are able to resist it here and now.
For a company that saw its revenue reach more than $10 billion in 2021, there is no reason why 800 members of staff should be cast aside only to be replaced by contract workers who will be paid next to nothing. Capitalists don’t see ferries as an essential public service but as a means to accumulate profit. They don’t see workers as people who deserve dignity, respect and the means to live a good life, but as parts in a profit making machine. It is this same philosophy that is driving the destruction of the environment. Companies like DP World (P&O’s parent company) are among the richest in the world, incorporating ever-larger supply chains and workforces, while at the same time causing more and more damage to the environment (while shareholders receive greater and greater profits).
The way forward is for workers to utilise our power through collective action. Corporations will try relentlessly to divide us, to undermine our unions, to cut our pay and worsen our working conditions, all in the pursuit of power and profit. But workers are the ones with real power. We keep the wheels of industry turning and we can pull the brakes. This is especially the case for seafarers and dockworkers who can shut down world trade, hitting the capitalists where it really hurts.
We have already seen powerful acts of solidarity in support of the P&O seafarers: dockworkers in the UK and the Netherlands refusing to handle P&O ships stopping them from sailing, agency workers refusing to replace their fellow workers, and thousands of supporters protesting at the ports and corporate offices. We have also seen brave acts of defiance from the seafarers themselves – who initially refused to leave their ships when instructed by handcuff equipped security. Some were forcefully removed.
Earth Strike UK extends our solidarity to the P&O workers. We support the P&O boycott and call on all workers to continue to support the struggle however they can. Join the pickets, join the protests, join the boycott. Justice for the P&O seafarers!
Tuesday 19th April – 2PM
Dover CT17 9BZ
DP World HQ – London:
Thursday 21st April (time tbc)
16 Palace Street
London SWE 5JQ