At 10.55am, the 59-year-old had a job, a home and a life at sea that he loved.
At 11:05 a.m., after P&O Ferries summarily sacked its entire crew on board in a pre-recorded video message, work was gone and the house suddenly felt balanced.
“Twenty-five years I’ve served on their f****** ships,” said the grandfather of five from Hull. “Twenty-five, I’ve been running their ships and that’s how they say thank you, throwing me on the fucking scrap heap.”
What would he do? “I’ve worked on ships since I was 15. What can I do ? Go handle the goddamn rowboats in East Park? »
The staff member – who asked not to be named for fear of losing his severance pay – was just one of hundreds of furious protesters who joined a protest at Hull’s King George Dock on Friday. Simultaneous protests also took place in Dover and Liverpool.
Together they expressed the sheer anger felt after P&O Ferries took the stunning decision to lay off 800 seagoing staff from its fleet of 20 vessels across the UK – all without notice, consultation or, one might say. reasonably to say, with nothing approaching common decency.
“These people were treated like a used condom,” said Neil Dawson, a 61-year-old construction worker who joined the protest dressed as a ship’s rat. “This is a serious attack on them and on all workers.”
Around 100 workers have lost their jobs here in Hull following the massive layoffs. They include everything from ship engineers to chefs.
The two ships they run – the Pride of Hull and the Pride of Rotterdam – travel between the two cities at night and carry up to 1,200 passengers at a time. These boats, according to P&O bosses, will continue to operate from next week – but will now be staffed by cheaper agency (read: overseas) staff.
“We arrived from Rotterdam yesterday at 7am, got an email at 8am asking us to attend a video call at 11am, then here he is, this bald guy we’ve never seen before on screen, telling us everything to cast our hook,” said another seven-year-old crew member. “No one could believe it. We were all looking at each other and saying, ‘Can he do this? Is this allowed? People were crying. Literally cry.
As shock turned to anger aboard the Pride of Hull, a mutinous crew – backed by the ship’s captain Eugène Favier – initially refused to leave the boat. When they finally did, around 4:30 p.m., many were still so dazed that they left all their belongings on board.
“You do two weeks on, then you have two weeks off, so you make your cabin your home, your TV, your photos, your clothes,” added the worker, father of two. “So we left and it wasn’t until later that I was home and realized that all my stuff was still on board a ship that I can no longer board.”
It was, he added after a moment, the least of his worries. “I can live without my TV,” he said. “I don’t know how I can live if I can’t pay my mortgage.”
The sacked workers were joined in Friday’s protest by supporters and union representatives as well as former Labor leader Ed Miliband and Kingston upon Hull East Labor MP Karl Turner.
“The government should withdraw all contracts [from P&O Ferries] with immediate effect,” the latter told the crowd in a particularly well-received speech. “They might say, ‘You don’t get a penny more until every man and woman comes back to work on those ships.’ The government can do a lot [to help].”
The government, for its part, has already told P&O Ferries – which is owned by Dubai-based DP World – that it is not too late to reconsider, with Boris Johnson’s spokesman suggesting it there would be “ramifications” if he didn’t. do it.
But hints of such actions did little to quell the fury in Hull.
“It’s like something out of the 80s,” said Carl Burn, a Hull-based GMB union official. “This kind of behavior has no place in the 21st century. They are ruining lives. By video link.
Aptly, he said, Hull would not forgive P&O Ferries. “It’s a maritime town and people are furious that sailors are being treated like this,” he said. “This is no ordinary job and the people here know how much respect it should be. And they see it’s the exact opposite of respect. People are here because they are angry.
The outcome remains uncertain.
The company said it lost £100m last year. “It’s not sustainable,” a spokesperson said. “Without these changes, there is no future for P&O Ferries.”
But reasoning held little place with this 59-year-old worker. He pointed out – as many have already – that DP World made some £8billion in global revenue last year.
“And my future?” He asked. “Who decided it just wasn’t…
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This notice was published: 2022-03-18 19:03:36