P&O – a medieval monarch v militant workers

Another despot acting badly and creating mayhem is causing a flutter out outrage in the UK. 800 workers on the Dubai-owned UK P&O ferries were summarily sacked on zoom without notice and ordered to disembark by ex-Special Forces security contractors who arrived on board various ferries with handcuffs to ensure they complied. Passengers were told to disembark.

  DP World, the owner of P&O Ferries, is a port and cargo corporation owned by the Dubai government, ruler Sheikh Maktoum, operating in 69 countries, including deep sea terminals in London and Southampton. It has been losing money on ferries over the pandemic but did collect many millions in furlough hand-outs from the UK taxpayer and managed a £270 million dividend to shareholders in 2020 while 1,100 jobs were being cut.

   Part of the strategy may have been a union-busting exercise since the RMT (Rail Maritime, Transport) are radical and militant. DP World intend to replace the union workers with agency workers, presumably at far lower rates of pay and with greater flexibility. The other semi-explanation for what has been a spectacularly crass exercise is payback against the UK, after a divorce judge ordered a quarter of a billion pound settlement to a former wife, in late 2021 partly to pay for protection against him. His two daughters were also involved in high profile kidnaps with critical media coverage of him as his thugs dragged them back to Dubai. He appears to have 30 children by several different wives. See post December 22 2021.

  Despite all of which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge made an official visit to Dubai last month, meeting Sheikh Maktoum; and DP World donated £1 million to the royal couple’s Earthshot environment competition. Sigh.

  Sheikh Maktoum, 15 July 1949, is one of the UK’s largest landowners, many properties owned through off-shore companies, and a prominent racehorse owner, often seen in years gone by in the Royal carriage with the Queen at Ascot. He’s a Sun Cancer in an expansive opposition to Jupiter in Capricorn; with a charming and manipulative Venus Pluto in Leo and a Pisces Moon probably square Mars (= anger against women).   He’s sagging badly from mid this April onwards with tr Neptune square his Mars so significant plans will hit the skids, denting his confidence and his reputation. P&O ferries are likely to be the least of his concerns.

  His monarchy chart, 4 January 2004, flags up financial upsets from this June onwards; and his own chart has tr Uranus square his Venus Pluto from mid May for the rest of the year.  The Dubai 1820 chart looks in chaos ahead for several years; and the Dubai 1833 will also be heavily disrupted.

  Back in the UK – the seafarers and transport union, RMT, amalgamated on 10 September 1990, has a highly-strung Sun Mercury trine Saturn, Neptune, Uranus in Capricorn sextile Pluto. It is being upended by tr Uranus opposition the Pluto  from mid May onwards into 2023.

  They have already made themselves less than popular by their intransigent stance again change in the London Underground and railways. And one commentator remarked this could be the most dramatic piece of union-busting since Rupert Murdoch moved all his newspaper titles from Fleet Street to Wapping in 1986, breaking the power of the print unions in the process.

  Employment lawyers do say there will probably be a case to be brought against DP World’s draconian actions though it will be complicated by them having reflagged its UK fleet from Dover to Cyprus in 2019, citing “operational and accounting reasons” in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Sigh, Brexit again.

   The poor workers. Words defy me. Though if the next few years do anything I’d fervently pray the Royals and political brass stop drooling over these obscenely rich throwbacks to mediaeval times.  

16 thoughts on “P&O – a medieval monarch v militant workers

  1. Well I think the answer is for British people to boycott the firm, and Hugh Fowler is right. This is going on all over the world and has been for at least two decades now. Boycott firms who exploit their workers.

  2. Thank you for your splendid site.
    Regarding employment UK workers were never truly protected by EU legislation, the enormous changes in the late 80s meant that rules were slashed and it gave rise to the gig economy here and in the USA.
    Some years ago an influential group approached the EU with a view to improve the working conditions for gig workers, however, this was dismissed by the EU as not pertinent as it was considered an internal matte in the UK. European workers may have different terms but they did suffer higher unemployment in the Med region.
    The Victorians would recognise the gig economy it is one of the major factors for the growing inequality.
    So I am afraid that the EU membership was not as effective as some thought, I am neutral regarding Brexit because I consider that countries in Europe and the USA were coping with the transfer of millions of jobs to Asia and dealt with it in different ways
    Peace to you all

  3. One sad part about “cheaper agency workers” is that agency work is another scam with the agents creaming off a large slice of the money. Gone are the days where you had an agency job and they added 10% for supplying you.

    Was reading recently about how agencies charge local council £30 per hour for careworkers; yet only pay the careworker £12. The council don’t care because it’s not their employee. The agency simply stop giving you work, or putting you forward for jobs, if you complain.

    The companies give all the work to a single agency (“preferred supplier”) who are charging less for the work than if it were an open competition between multiple agencies.

    I saw this with my own eyes over a decade ago; can only have got worse.

  4. The timing of the move against the P@O workers was in part motivated by the surging price of oil. The west needs the petro-sheiks to increase the supply of oil – in the wake of cutting off Russia oil due to the invasion of Ukraine – to keep the price down and prevent galloping inflation. The sheik knows that the west can’t go too hard on him so it was a good time to move from his perspective. It is all a lesson in how connected everything is.

  5. Hi Marjorie – the ruler of Dubai is actually Shaikh Muhammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum. His older brother was the one named Maktoum; he ruled Dubai before Shaikh Muhammad, but died at the fairly young age of 62.

  6. The Duke of Cambridge was seen mostly with the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum, on his recent visit. Hamdan was born on the 14th November 1982. I haven’t found an exact time but it might be interesting to find out if he will change things or if it will be ‘same old’ when his time comes.

    The P&O debacle, very badly handled and disastrous for the employees, their families & the local economy.

  7. The RMT have Uranus/Saturn midpoint on Neptune in their Chart. The Unions per-se are flexing their muscles, as they see an opportunity for a glorious comeback to strength like the 1970’s. Perhaps a Romantic view (Neptune) coupled with a non negotiable Saturn in the third gave them impetus, whereas Uranus, surprise gave them a shock. The Aquarian North Node trine Mars in the 7th, conjunct the Moon in Taurus (over indulgence) could make them over confident and wanting too much money all the time.

  8. Re P&O, only British employees are affected. European employees are protected by EU employment laws. UK employees arent. Another Brexit dividend.

    • As I recall, TUPE applies when the company supplying workers changes. So, let’s say P&O have outsourced security (most companies have). When the security contract comes up for renewal, if a new company wins the bid they have to take on the old employees under TUPE.

      This is P&O making their own employees redundant and bringing in agency workers. I would have said employment law prohibits you from making someone redundant and then rehiring someone in the same role. But I guess maybe if you replace them with agency workers/temps that’s legal. The other way employers get around that is just to redefine the role.

  9. Thanks Marjorie. Such a shocking and horrible way to treat staff, some who’d been working there for decades. How on earth did they plan such a thing? Plus, showing absolute disregard for their passengers as well.

    I did look at the planets for P&O European Ferries, named 22 October 1987 – after the terrible Herald of Free Enterprise earlier disaster that year. It had previously been Townsend Thoresen.
    It’s curious to see it’s current transits – tr Pluto transits the Libran Sun, Tr Neptune in marine Pisces squares it’s Uranus in travelling Sagittarius, tr Jupiter in Pisces squares it’s Saturn also in Sagittarius. The Jupiter/Neptune conjunction, which has quite a travelling by sea feel, will square it’s Uranus at 23 Sagittarius in April. On the day of the announcement, Mars in Aquarius was square it’s Pluto in Scorpio, and approaches the oddly retrograde (for a travel company?!) Mercury (11 Scorpio) and the financial Venus, 13 Scorpio. The April 30th eclipse in Taurus also opposes Mercury and Pluto. So it does seem to “work” as a chart, even though it isn’t a foundation chart exactly. Not sure why.

    Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what disrupts Dubai, the Sheik, and all who sail in them in the next few years…..some big changes are well overdue, as you say.

    • Badly advised?
      It has always been that that the unelected Royals kow tow to every despot in the world.
      No regard at all for the people who are supposed to fawn all over them.
      The biggest social security scroungers ever.
      Sigh is not a big enough word.
      The misery in most of Britain is extremely real and can only get worse whilst the so called elites look the other way.
      Ps. Those sackings are an abomination and corruption of power. Nothing has changed much, only the little people pay.

  10. I wonder how many of these workers voted for Brexit – thereby undermining their own legal protection from just this kind of summary dismissal. Employment law has been seriously weakened and unscrupulous employers are taking advantage of that. As you noted, Brexit: the gift that just keeps on giving…

    • Yes Sadly they are in for a shock. People did warn the Leavers. During the Referendum debate many pro Brexit voters saw a solution to all their problems and really believed the slogan “take back control”. It was a lost cause attempting to give any truth about leaving, as the Remainers online were called unpatriotic and to get behind leaving. I can’t shake off the nagging feeling that Johnson is purposely damaging this country. The Times had an article today, about Johnson being a long standing Patron of a Charity linked to Russian Children with Down’s syndrome. Apparently he was given a very expensive watch by the creator of this charity, who was sack by another for incompetence. The Charity Commission are investigating this Charity.

    • As a Union official who dealt with redundancy rounds in the first decade of the 21st I can tell you EU wide law provided little job protection to British workers. Most of the extra job security enjoyed by workers in France, Germany etc came from legislation passed by the national governments of these countries.

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