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The Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO stands with the rest of maritime labor around the world in condemning the abrupt firing of 800 unionized British mariners from P&O Ferries, which transport people and goods between the United Kingdom and Europe.

“This is an appalling breach of trust between workers and the company that had employed them,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco. “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters overseas.”

P&O Ferries is owned by Dubai-based DP World, which announced the immediate sacking of the crews on March 17. The company seeks to replace the union members with outsourced workers from other nations.

Unions RMT and Nautilus, whose members are contracted to sail the vessels, instructed crews to remain aboard the ships and sought help from the British government to prevent the outsourcing.

“The news today is shocking,” said Stephen Cotton, general secretary for the International Transport Workers’ Federation. (The London-based ITF represents more than 650 transportation-related unions from around the world. Many MTD affiliates belong to the ITF.)

“In the strongest possible terms, we condemn P&O. We will not accept its move to axe the jobs of its loyal seafaring workforce with no notice,” Cotton added.

“We are shocked and angry the P&O, a company that pocketed thousands of pounds of UK taxpayer’s money during the pandemic, intends to forcefully remove crews,” he continued.

As of March 18, reports were circulating that security guards had boarded the ferries to handcuff crewmembers in order to remove them from the vessel.