22 March 2022

PCS general secretary signs letter to Kwasi Kwarteng over employment rights

Mark Serwotka has joined with the TUC and over 30 other general secretaries calling on the business secretary to strengthen employment legislation.

The government first promised an employment bill more than two years ago, which was supposed to boost workers’ rights. However the recent sacking of 800 workers by P&O Ferries shows that UK employment law urgently needs strengthening to properly protect workers from unfair dismissal and penalise bad employers.

The letter to business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng refers to “the callous, illegal and pre-meditated firing of 800 workers by P&O Ferries”.

In addition to an employment bill to strengthen protections for workers, the general secretaries’ letter calls on government to demand the immediate reinstatement of all sacked P&O staff with no loss of pay.

RMT demands

The RMT is the union that represents the sacked P&O workers.  It is demanding that:

  • the government must act urgently and workers must be reinstated,
  • P&O Ferries must face serious consequences for the treatment of their workers,
  • the government must make new laws to prevent this happening again, including a bill to end fire and rehire (the 800 sacked staff have been replaced by Indian agency workers who are being paid as little as £1.80 an hour - £7.81 below national minimum wage).

Companies using UK ports often register ships in other countries, allowing them to pay lower wages. Some vessels operated by P&O Ferries are flagged in Cyprus.

The union has said the ships should not be allowed to set sail and the UK government must step in.

Since the announcement of job losses on Thursday, no sailings have been operated.

Yesterday, P&O owners DP World refused to meet the general secretaries of RMT, Nautilus and the TUC who were attending a protest at their headquarters.

Boycott and protests

Protests will be taking place in Liverpool over two days on Wednesday 23 and Saturday 26 March

We are asking members to support any boycotts called for by the unions involved.