The Trade Union movement rallied behind sacked P&O workers today at the Port of Larne. Members of the RMT called a protest outside the gates of Larne Harbour following from their mass sacking of eight-hundred seasoned seafarers in March of this year.
The sacked staff, joined by fellow workers from across the trade union movement, protested at the entrance to Larne Port’s freight entrance.
Nearly as soon as banners were unfurled and placards waved, Police officers attempted to move workers along. Police at all times had open lines of communication with the scab staff inside the Port – going so far as to redirect freight away from the entrance to avoid having to face sacked workers.
The British Government, and their enforcers in the PSNI, have ignored the outrageous actions of bosses and board members of P&O Ferries and DP World. Instead, ordinary workers are targeted while bosses and board members reap the benefits of their assault on workers rights.
Speaking to the sacked P&O workers, their anger was palpable – several in attendance today had worked onboard P&O services for over two decades. They still have not been able to retrieve their personal belongings from cabins onboard their former workplace. Former workers rightly pointed out that P&O’s actions – and the British Government’s tacit acceptance of it – signal a step-change in corporations attitudes to organised labour. By dismissing well-trained, and hard-working staff, they have paved the way for other employers to do the same. Now, more than ever, workers need to come together and organise to protect the gains the labour movement has made, and fight the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
However, all those in attendance were pleased to see that P&O Ferries disdain for ordinary workers is clearly costing them financially. One worker present said that the busy Friday crossing to Cairnryan was woefully under-filled in both passenger and freight traffic, suggesting that the calls to Boycott P&O are having the desired effect.
Only one lorry attempted to cross the picket line. Workers stood firm and blocked lorry from entering the port. Seeing this, PSNI officers rushed in to ‘clear a path’. One officer shoved an ex-worker and trade unionist further into the road. The same officer then claimed the worker had assaulted him, and arrested him on the spot. In the face of eight-hundred job losses, forced removal from their vessel in March, and no access to personal belongings still onboard, police attacked workers demanding basic respect.