RAIL, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) members will be joined by many other trade unionists today at 7.00am and on Saturday 26th March at 7.00am at the Port of Liverpool to protest against the mass sacking of 800 workers by P&O. The demonstrations will demand the reinstatement of the P&O workers.
The RMT leaders are calling on the Tory government to take action against P&O and its parent company DP World to ensure that happens. The RMT has even called on Boris Johnson to meet a delegation of sacked P&O workers.
In fact, Johnson and the Tory leaders had advance notice of P&0’s plan to sack its workforce and bring in Indian workers earning 2.38 dollars an hour, but kept quiet about it.
Current employment law has not only allowed the mass dismissal of UK seafarers it has also incentivised this barbaric behaviour because employers know there will be no effective legal sanction to stop them doing so, and on top of that they can get away with paying well below the minimum wage.
The RMT says: ‘Anyone travelling the Liverpool-Dublin route on P&O will be paying into the pockets of a company that uses handcuffs to enforce video sackings and pays staff below the minimum wage and with atrocious employment conditions. ‘That’s why we are saying: “Don’t go with P&O” and are calling for a boycott of these services.’
The RMT added that the low pay is a ‘shocking exploitation’ and ‘a betrayal of those who have been sacked’.
The minimum wage in the UK for people aged 23 and above is £8.91 per hour. The truth is that the trade unions are wasting their time appealing to the Tories. In fact, many employers are now agitating for their government to openly promote and expand fire and rehire policies to try to get British capitalism out of the bankrupt mess it’s in – at the expense of the working class.
Tory Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs that he first found out about the P&O redundancies at 8.30 the evening before the workers were to be sacked, but it wasn’t until he was at the despatch box the next day that he was made fully aware of the scale. In fact, the top Tory leadership had advance notice as to what P&O was planning and allowed it to happen.
Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said government ministers had ‘completely failed to act’ and the reported rates of pay were ‘nothing short of a betrayal of the workers who protected this country’s supply chain during the pandemic.’
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said P&O staff were ‘being replaced by exploited workers, vulnerable workers from overseas. ‘We have no beef with those people. We want those people to be paid the wages that we’ve negotiated for in this country,’ he said.
The union has called for a boycott of P&O services and is urging the Tory government to look at legal options to reinstate the sacked workers. They must believe in miracles!
A lot more is required if the action is to be serious and meaningful. Union members must tell the RMT and Unite leaders that the TUC General Council must meet at once and call an indefinite general strike to smash this vicious attack on trade unionists which, if it is allowed to succeed, will rapidly become the established way of imposing the costs of the capitalist crisis onto the backs of workers.
Only a general strike will show the Tories that the trade unions mean business, and it will certainly win and bring down the Tory government and bring in a workers’ government that will nationalise P&O and show that the way to deal with the threat of mass sackings is to bring in a nationalised and planned economy.
Capitalism is in a huge crisis. Rising inflation has led to government interest payments hitting a fresh record in February of £8.2bn, the highest amount for any February since records began in April 1997 and up £1bn on last year.
The payments are pegged to the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation – which reached 7.8% in January. Surging food prices, energy bills and fuel prices have pushed costs up for households, but rising inflation also means the government is paying more in interest payments on its debt.
New data shows that public sector debt, excluding public sector banks, remains at a level not seen since the early 1960s. February’s borrowing figures were the second-highest since monthly records began in 1993.
It was also £12.8bn more than the level seen in February 2020, which was before lockdowns were brought in.
Now is the time when the TUC must be made to call a general strike to bring down the government and go forward to a workers’ government and socialism. This is the only way to deal with the capitalists – by abolishing their capitalist system.