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UNSCRUPULOUS employers will launch more attacks on workers unless P&O Ferries bosses are forced to reinstate 800 mariners they unlawfully sacked, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has warned.
Speaking at the 74th annual conference of the TUC’s Yorkshire & the Humber region in Hull on Saturday, she warned that no worker was safe if the government did not act against P&O.
Ms O’Grady said: “P&O decided to fire and fire and fire again — 800 loyal workers doing critical work for Britain, replaced by agency labour, some on less than £2 an hour.
“We know that low-paid, exploited migrant workers are not the enemy. But bosses are, and the government who lets them get away with it.
“Just like [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson, P&O stuck two fingers up at the law. The penalties are so pitiful that they budgeted for it in their accounts.”
Calling for P&O Ferries to be taken into public ownership, she said: “We should become the operator of last resort. If P&O can get away with it, no worker is safe.”
TUC regional secretary Bill Adams said: “If anybody thinks it is not going to happen to them, they are living in cloud cuckoo land.”
Ms O’Grady urged delegates to raise support for the TUC’s “We Demand Better” march and rally in London on June 18.
RMT member Gaz Jackson, the mariner who raised the gangplank on the day of the sackings on March 18, told the conference that the RMT campaign for reinstatement of the workers had mobilised people who had never been active before.
He said: “We had two options: either roll over and get our belly stroked — or fight.
“We are getting public support. And it is unprecedented: four ships stopped by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency due to safety standards.”
Alex Hutchinson of Hull & District Trade Union Council said that activists were leafletting outside travel agents urging the public not to use P&O Ferries, and lobbying politicians to tell them: “P&O are not fit for use and are not welcome in our city.”
The conference unanimously backed an emergency motion urging support for a public boycott of P&O ferries and backing the RMT’s campaign for reinstatement.
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