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RMT Union protests against P&O Ferries' job cuts in Dover

A protest was held over a ferry company's shock move to axe more than 800 jobs – and more are planned for tomorrow.

Members of the RMT union blocked two roads in Dover this afternoon over P&O Ferries' move to make its entire crew redundant, effective immediately.

Protesters make their feelings known after P&O Ferries' shock decision to axe its workforce

Union members went across the A20 by the traffic lights, holding banners and flags that read "stop the P&O jobs carve up".

They also chanted 'save local jobs' as they stood across the carriageway.

Protests started at around 2.30pm and a splinter group also set up on the A256 slip road, with traffic building up along the A20.

There were long queues of lorries and cars, with a heavy police presence at the scene.

Drivers going past on separate roads honked their horns and shouted words of encouragement and support to the demonstrators.

Members of the RMT protest in Dover by blocking the main road heading towards the port. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Members of the RMT protest in Dover by blocking the main road heading towards the port. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Protestors have set up on the A20 in Dover
Protestors have set up on the A20 in Dover
Police are present at the scene
Police are present at the scene
There are long queues building up
There are long queues building up

One lorry driver who was stuck did confront protestors but returned to his vehicle without any further issue.

Protesters left the carriageways at about 3.15pm.

The protests come after more than 800 workers were told today that their contracts were being terminated, and that they would be replaced by a 'third party' crewing company.

The "highly immoral" and "disgusting" move was justified to the devastated workers over a scripted video call as being due to the company making losses of more than £200m in two years.

Passengers are now facing the potential of being stranded for days due to the cancellation of trips across the channel.

Darren Procter, national secretary at the RMT union
Darren Procter, national secretary at the RMT union

Speaking to KentOnline, Darren Procter, the national secretary for the RMT, said the way the firm dealt with the announcement was 'out of the ordinary.

He said: "Normally they would do a consultation - so this is totally out of the ordinary.

"It wasn't suspected, there are obviously things behind the scenes - they have forgotten about the employees and what they've done for this particular company throughout the pandemic and the many years before."

He said workers were left devastated by the news: "They are very very emotive, as you can imagine, waking up in the morning thinking it's a normal day and to be told that you've got no job.

"There have been youngsters coming in with kids and mortgages to pay; and they are absolutely in tears and in bits asking 'why?'.

The RMT building in Dover
The RMT building in Dover

"It is a disgraceful situation in how the company has conducted themselves.

"Loyalty counts for nothing with this particular company.

"There's lots of underhandedness that's going on.

"I will be looking to every avenue possible to challenge this, with political support and with support of international trade unions and with the support of local community."

The protests look likely to continue tomorrow, with P&O staff and other trades unionists planning to join demonstrations in Dover, Liverpool, and Hull.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "It is vital workers from every industry mobilise for the demonstrations on Friday.

"We need to send a message to ruthless employers and the government alike, that when working people are treated so abysmally, there is a militant response from the trade union movement.

"This example of gangster capitalism which our members in P&O have been subjected, is what lies ahead for other workers up and down the country if we do not all take a stand."

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