Michael MacLeod, seafaring RMT member, reports on last week’s blockade at Cairnryan in solidarity with sacked P&O Ferries workers.
Last Friday, the RMT, fellow trade unionists and comrades from across Scotland returned to Cairnryan to show P&O Ferries that their actions in sacking 800 workers in the St Patrick’s Day Massacre have not been forgotten.
Things had changed since the last protest with the two ferries running with a crew assembled from across the world. Only a couple of days previous the European Causeway had found itself adrift with no power outside Larne for a couple of hours. Lifeboats, a coastguard helicopter and a tug were standing by in case an emergency evacuation was required. Thankfully, after two hours, she got under away again under her own power and made it to Larne. The weather was flat calm – in any sort of inclement weather, they could have faced a far graver situation.
We arrived at Cairnryan around 2pm and immediately blockaded the entrance to the P&O ferry terminal. For two hours, nothing got in or out. We did not move when a lorry driver attempted to drive through the blockade. He had 7.5 tonnes of lorry behind him – we had the weight of the Scottish trade union movement behind us. The police took the driver away and it was reported in the mainstream media later that day he had been charged. The only time we parted was to let through a car who was heading home to a family emergency.
When the ferry sailed, half empty, we lifted our blockade. We will be back though.
Michael A MacLeod is a trade unionist hailing from the Isle of Barra. He works for a well-known West Coast ferry company and has been an member of the Republican Socialist Platform since its formation.