Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged local people to back a demonstration being held on Wednesday at the P&O terminal in Cairnryan, following last week’s announcement of the sacking of hundreds of seafaring staff jobs including on the Cairnryan to Larne crossing.

The protest is being organised by the RMT Scotland union and the local MSP, who is a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on the RMT Union, will be attending the rally.

Colin Smyth said: “I am urging local people to back the workers who have been affected by this unlawful move from P&O Ferries by joining the RMT rally outside P&O.

“The actions of P&O are a huge betrayal of a loyal workforce, many of whom stood by the firm during the pandemic by keeping sailings going, yet now P&O are walking away from them.

“The Trade Unions have my solidarity in fighting these job losses but we know that as a company P&O clearly have little interest in the welfare of their workforce and have been planning this move for some time, with reports they employed private security firms weeks ago to prepare for this announcement. It is also shocking to hear that the UK Government knew about these job losses the day before the workers but did nothing about it.”

Meanwhile, Colin Smyth hit out at local Conservative MPs for failing to back moves by Labour in the House of Commons yesterday (Monday 21 March) to ban fire and rehire and demand P&O reinstate the workforce.

Labour forced an emergency vote in the UK Parliament and called on the government to outlaw fire and rehire and bring forward an urgent bill to strengthen workers’ rights. The vote also called on the UK Government to suspend the contracts of DP World – the owner of P&O Ferries – unless P&O restate workers, this includes a £3,581,685.00 contract between P&O Ferries and the UK Department for Transport for the Cairnryan to Larne service.

Colin Smyth added: “Labour will fight every step of the way for the jobs and livelihoods of these loyal workers.

“This scandalous action must be a line in the sand and act as a wakeup call to the UK Government when it comes to our weak employment protection laws.

“For some time, Labour have been pressing the UK Government to outlaw the practise of fire and rehire, but they have failed to do so even although there is growing evidence more and more companies are using this practise in response to the pandemic.

“If P&O ferries are allowed to get away with this, it will give the green light to other exploitative employers.

“The job losses at Cairnryan are a direct consequence of the Tory assault on workers rights and it is shameful that local Tory MPs didn’t join with Labour and vote to ban cruel fire and rehire for good.

“They had a choice to make over which side they were on – loyal workers in Cairnryan or billionaires riding roughshod over rights and sadly MPs like Alister Jack chose the latter.”

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