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21 Mar 2022

Ella Glover, The Independent

UK: Union claims Indian agency workers recruited by P&O Ferries are paid as little as £1.80 an hour

See all tags Allegations

"P&O Ferries accused of paying foreign agency staff ‘£1.80 an hour’ following mass lay offs", 21 March 2022

Indian agency workers recently employed by P&O Ferries are being paid as little as £1.80 an hour, a union has claimed.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), which represented many of the 800 staff fired without notice last week, said their replacements are being paid well below the minimum wage in the UK.

The union claimed the new workers were receiving $2.38 (£1.80) an hour, more than £7 below the UK’s national minimum wage (£8.91 for those 23 and older).

General secretary Mick Lynch said: “The news that the seafarers now on ships in British ports are to be paid 2.38 dollars an hour is a shocking exploitation of those seafarers and another gut-wrenching betrayal of those who have been sacked.

“The rule of law and acceptable norms of decent employment and behaviour have completely broken down beneath the white cliffs of Dover and in other ports, yet five days into this national crisis the Government has done nothing to stop it...

P&O Ferries refused to comment on the pay of agency workers...

Labour said on Monday the government had received a memo it had obtained, which showed the ministers were made aware of the sackings before they took place.

In an emergency debate called by the Labour party, Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: "There is no indication, nothing in this memo at all that expresses any concern, any opposition, raises any alarm about the sacking of 800 loyal British workers.

"This is the clearest proof that the government’s first instinct was to do absolutely nothing."

Transport secretary Grant Shapps admitted he was made aware of planned redundancies on Wednesday evening at 8.30pm but assumed that they would be conducted through consultation...

He also told the House of Commons that the company is using the agreements to try to "keep the employees quiet" while behaving in a "shameful and unacceptable way".

On Monday, MPs voted 211 votes to zero to back a Labour motion condemning the decision of P&O Ferries to sack staff and demanding their immediate reinstatement.

The non-binding motion also called on the government to suspend the contracts and licences of DP World and to urgently bring forward legislation to outlaw fire and rehire.

Conservative MPs did not take part in the vote.

The government has given P&O Ferries a deadline of Tuesday, 5pm to answer questions related to recent events which will then "inform next steps".