P&O workers must be reinstated, yes, but it will take a fight!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
30 March 2022

The myth of “democracy for all” - in this best of all possible worlds for the class of rich only - has been clearly exposed by the fate of the 800 P&O workers who were sacked without notice on the 17th March.

    Because despite all the hot air spouted in parliament on the Monday following, when a special session was entirely devoted to talking about this, they are still sacked!

    Tory government ministers, including the Transport Secretary himself, expressed their shock and “absolute fury” at P&O’s behaviour...  They demanded that the workers be reinstated in their jobs.  They called in P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite (who admitted breaking the law) for cross-questioning at a Commons’ Transport Committee hearing...  and, concluded that, never mind the parent company, DP World’s big profits (or contract to run a Freeport), nothing can be done, because P&O faces “losses”?!!  This says it all, really about who is the real “boss” over the government!

    But Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, keeps the illusion of “government power” and all-class democracy alive...  This Monday, he said the company's boss had been given "one final opportunity" to re-employ sacked staff on their previous salaries.  He wrote a letter to Peter Hebblethwaite, again “urging him to reverse his decision to sack 800 seafarers”.  And if “Peter” didn’t do it, he threatened that the government’s law, making it illegal for ferry firms to pay less than the minimum wage, would be “likely to force him to do so”..!

    Well, the law isn’t yet passed.  But if it was, all it would do is to make P&O (and other shipping companies) pay crews more than the £1.80 we were told replacement Indian crews were getting!  Which won’t help the 800 seafarers who were summarily dismissed two weeks ago to get “their” wages and conditions back!  Nor indeed their pensions, which are also threatened.

    In the meantime workers and activists from the RMT union are trying to mount protests and pickets at the ports concerned.  But all that the RMT leaders, who have the means to organise a general transport strike (they’re meant to be balloting all railway workers for a national wage strike!) can think of doing is to demand that the government intervenes!  Yes, never mind that it just proved who its real master is, behind the mask of “democracy”...