P&O plans to cut workers' pay - despite taking government cash

Ferry company P&O is attempting to cut essential workers’ pay despite handing shareholders huge dividends and cashing in on the government’s emergency coronavirus wages scheme.  The firm’s owner – Dubai-based DP World, which operates the Dover to Calais route – has also asked for a government bailout to keep operating, while P&O has used UK funds to furlough some 1,400 workers.  Now the company has told stevedores and other key workers, who are transporting food and medical supplies into the UK during the lockdown, that they may have to take a 20% cut in pay and benefits.  A document from P&O’s management seen by HuffPost UK and sent to the GMB union, which represents staff at Dover, tells staff the company is looking to cut £142m of staffing costs by 20% – around £28m. It says: “This must be found from wage costs, our operating model and the terms and conditions of employment.”  ____________________________________________________ More on coronavirus: ____________________________________________________ Frank Macklin, regional organiser for the union, accused the firm of seizing on the crisis to make “opportunistic” cutbacks. Three days after ordering schools across the country to close indefinitely, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict social distancing measures on March 23, which were extended a furtherthree weeks on April 16. These include a total ban on public gatherings of more than two people, the prohibition of travel other than for essential work and medical reasons, and that peopleare notto leave their homes other than to carry out one form of exercise daily. People sit on their doorsteps in Islington as the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, in London, England on April 5.   A woman wears a mask as she jogs past a closed amusement arcade with her dog on a deserted Bournemouth promenade in Bournemouth, England on March 29.    A man sits on a bus as people continue to socially distance themselves amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in Edinburgh, Scotland on March 26.     A handout photograph released by the UK parliament shows the second reading of the Coronavirus Bill 2019-21 in the House of Commons, with MPs observing social distancing by sitting two metres apart, in London, England on March 23.   Labour and the GMB has said ministers should guarantee that staff pay is not cut as a condition of any bailout to DP World.  The document adds: “Trading conditions will not recover in the foreseeable future – and we urgently need your help to make the business flexible enough to be sustainable in the future. He said: “It’s extraordinary that P&O’s owners are seeking further government support when they are preparing to make huge cuts to the pay and conditions of essential workers, who are keeping food and medical supplies coming into the country to be distributed as soon as possible.