P&O Ferries: French and Dutch dockers issue ‘scab’ warning over P&O agency crews

French and Dutch dockers have told a union calling for the reinstatement of 800 sacked seafarers that they won’t handle ferries manned by “scab” crews.

A mass demonstration outside Parliament on Monday will call on the Government to demand P&O Ferries reverse its decision to sack all UK crew, replacing them with cheaper agency workers.

It comes as the Pride of Hull spent a fourth day in dock, with a Filipino skeleton crew on board, along with the first mate and Dutch captain, according to RMT regional organiser Gaz Jackson.

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Mr Jackson contradicted earlier suggestions that a new eastern European crew had boarded the ferry, saying: “No-one else has got on. A lot of British seafarers that applied to work for the contracting company have said they don’t want to do it.

The Pride of Hull at its moorings in Hull Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

"We’ve received messages from Holland and France and basically they have said if a P&O ship comes in with a scab crew they won’t moor them.”

A tweet from P&O Ferries on Sunday apologising for the late cancellation of services sparked angry comments from passengers who berated the company’s “unforgiveable” treatment of employees and for taking bookings and payments for “non-existent” services.

One said: “This route was 50 years in the making. You are going to finish it if you run your company like this.”

It came as The Sunday Times reported that ministers knew about the plan to slash jobs before staff were informed but were told by officials it would ensure the firm remained “a key player in the UK market for years to come”.

The newspaper said a leaked memo, apparently written by a senior Whitehall official, tried to “justify” the mass redundancies, stating that “without these decisions, an estimated 2,200 staff would likely lose their jobs”.

The memo, said to have been sent before Thursday’s bombshell sackings, adds the changes “will align them with other companies in the market who have undertaken a large reduction in staff previously”.

It was reportedly “widely shared across Government” with recipients including the Prime Minister's private office while Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is understood to have received a copy.

It comes after Mr Shapps openly criticised P&O’s actions, stating he had written to chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite questioning the legality of the move.

Hull East MP Karl Turner said Mr Shapps had rung him last Thursday and sounded “incredibly cross, very surprised and shocked” about the sackings. The MP said: “If he has lied to me I would be surprised.”

He said the “very least” Ministers should have done was to tip off the trade unions: “They deserve to be told that 800 men and women are going to be sacked on Thursday and replaced by people on £2 an hour.”

The DfT said Mr Shapps had ordered an examination of all contracts with P&O Ferries and owner DP World.

But Mr Turner said: “Grant Shapps has said they are going to investigate every contract – never mind investigate, just pull them.”