Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has condemned news that P&O Ferries will make hundreds of UK crew redundant, labelling it “an attack on seafarers’ rights”.
Announced today (Thursday) 800 sailing workers have been fired with immediate effect, while some staff have attempted to resist the mass sackings.
Private security officers have been sent onto one ship docked at Larne Harbour in Northern Ireland, to remove staff on board, according to the RMT Union.
Mr Carmichael said: “Today’s underhanded action by P&O is an attack on seafarers’ rights. It is an absolute outrage.
“We have fought too long and hard over the years to defend basic standards of pay and treatment for P&O to simply wave away hundreds of workers in this manner.
“The government must step in to prevent this unreasonable behaviour from a company that has been intrinsically linked to UK marine transport for almost two centuries.
“If the current owners cannot manage this company properly then the government needs to consider how a more responsible owner can be brought in.
“Make no mistake: if such unwarranted action is allowed to stand, then the conditions of UK seafarers – including the many workers who still join the merchant navy from the isles – risk being critically undermined.”
Mr Carmichael also noted that P&O was co-founded by Shetlander Arthur Anderson in the 19th century (for whom Anderson High School in Lerwick is named), a proud islander and radical Liberal MP for Orkney and Shetland.
He added: “Arthur Anderson was one of the co-founders of P&O. He was a proud Shetlander and a radical Liberal MP for the isles.
“Anderson was an advocate both for islanders and for sailors in his time – we can only imagine what he would have made of this disgraceful action today by the company he founded.”