ON THE day the owners in Dubai are set to pay hundreds of millions in dividends, RMT has called for P&O Ferries to be nationalised to protect UK seafarer jobs and its strategic supply route.
DP World is set to make a £270m dividend payment to private shareholders.
To keep 1,400 key workers – seafarers, dockers and other staff – employed at P&O Ferries, the taxpayer is already forking out over £10m to meet 80% of their wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
More public funds will be released shortly to support operators of major ferry routes from the UK to the Continent during the Coronavirus crisis and P&O Ferries are expected to bid for this too.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ‘Today P&O owners DP World, which is owned by the government of Dubai, will pay £270m dividend to shareholders while at the same time demanding another £150m from the British taxpayer to keep their operation going.
‘During the Covid crisis we simply cannot afford to have the UK’s ability to be supported by key shipping services being held to ransom by a corporate foreign owner.
‘The UK government needs to act in the national interest and take public control of this vital service or at the very least take a significant public stake.
‘Furlough and other public support to the ferries sector is welcome in the short term but the UK government must take steps now to secure employment of UK Seafarers and strategic control in the maritime supply chain.’
- An oil and gas operator has warned it expects to make about 530 redundancies in its North Sea operation.
EnQuest said it wanted to make savings of $300m (£241m), following the slump in demand for oil coupled with falling prices.
A consultation period on the plans is under way.
Industry body Oil and Gas UK had warned on Tuesday it expected as many as 30,000 jobs to go as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
EnQuest confirmed it had begun a six-week consultation with employees as it took ‘decisive action to manage the business in the current challenging economic environment’.
The company said: ‘Given the prevailing low oil price and global demand, the group has reviewed each of its assets and related spending plans.
‘This reduction in operational activity will inevitably lead to resource reductions, although EnQuest is seeking to keep this to a minimum. EnQuest expects to reduce the number of roles by 530.’
Meanwhile, Ithaca Energy, one of the biggest North Sea operators, plans to halve its capital spend to $125m (£100m) this year.
It also plans to cut operational costs by 16% to $370m (£298m).
The company expanded last year, with the $2bn (£1.61bn) acquisition of Chevron North Sea.
It has been pumping 75,000 barrels of oil per day, but plans to cut that back by 10%.