Liverpool Seafarers Centre CEO John Wilson is calling for a review of seafarer rights following the sacking of 800 workers by shipping line P & O.
“I have been appalled by this brutal and widely condemned act by P & O to fire 800 workers with no notice period. It exposes the glaring gap in how seafarers are employed and treated. P & O a British registered company, owned by DP World in Dubai, has been able to drive a coach and horses through normal UK redundancy practises as the ferries are flagged out to the Netherlands, Cyprus and the Bahamas. A loophole has been ruthlessly exploited and seafarers are the ones who suffer most. This should be the moment the International Maritime Organisation and its fellow UN body the International Labour Organisation took action to better protect seafarers from this corporate behaviour and updated the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) which governs seafarers rights. The reality is seafarers are too often exploited by the opaqueness of international law and whatever flag state they sail under.
“As I understand P&O has had an issue with the length of contracts for some years and has been negotiating with representatives from the Trade Union to agree a way forward, other operators have had similar situations however have managed to find a mutual agreements. Somehow something must be done to prevent seafarers ever being treated like this again, whether they are employed directly or through a third party. But for me, it is the tip of the iceberg in terms of how cheaper seafarers mostly from India, the Philippines, China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Eastern Europe are exploited to drive down fares and freight rates. “