P&O sparked an uproar last month by firing staff without notice and then replacing them with cheaper overseas staff and the sackings were condemned as illegal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
P&O Ferries was accused of digging new depths yesterday after it tried to cut the wages of its poorly paid new overseas crew.
Overseas agency workers hired to replace 786 employees illegally fired by Zoom’s appeal claimed they were asked to sign new contracts with lower pay.
If they did not agree, they risked being out of work, it is claimed.
An agency worker emailed the RMT union from the Spirit of Britain ferry in Dover and said: ‘We are desperate.
In one example, workers say bosses paid £2,336 a month on temporary contracts have been asked to sign new deals giving them £195 a month less.
The ferry, now cleared to resume the route from Dover to Calais, has a crew of 70.
But it’s unclear whether all have faced a cut, or whether staff on seven other ferries have also been targeted.
Some crews earn just £748 a month for a 40-hour week, or just £4.30 an hour.
Darren Procter, national secretary of the RMT – which campaigns for sacked P&O staff to be reinstated – says new workers have been recruited on month-long contracts. He said contracts had expired and staff had been offered “lower terms”.
He added: “Whatever their nationality, we are concerned – they are just as much victims as our members.”
P&O sparked an uproar last month by laying off staff without notice and then replacing them with cheaper overseas staff.
The sackings were called illegal by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has called on £325,000-a-year P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite to resign over breaches of employment law.
The new crew was hired through Malta-based International Ferry Management, which was established in February. Shipping companies registered overseas operating between the UK and Europe are exempt from minimum wage legislation.
In the email seen by the Sunday Mirror, a Romanian chef claimed IFM and P&O were trying to get the agency team to sign new contracts.
He said, “They don’t care about rights. It’s my sixth day working without a contract, please help. They try to give us less money. We are desperate.
Sources close to P&O Ferries last night denied attempting to change pay rates.
But a Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesperson said: ‘Before re-inspecting the Spirit of Britain yesterday, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency received a complaint via the RMT that a seaman had been asked to sign a contract with reduced wages. As part of the re-inspection, the MCA investigated and as a result the affected sailors were given amended contracts, which reverted to their original salary.
The RMT was allowed to board the vessel last week and speak to the crew.
Mr Procter said: ‘I spoke with three Honduran crew members and explained that they only had 50 minutes in port and would not set foot on dry land for leave down for 17 weeks – because they didn’t have time to do it. The color faded from their faces and I think they realized they were joining a ferry and not a P&O cruise ship!
“Their contract is a base salary of $961 per month for 40 hours of work per week. That equates to £748 a month on board a ship, away from loved ones on the UK’s busiest ferry route.
Sacked P&O chief John Lansdown, 40, slammed ‘another example of corporate greed’. Mr Lansdown, of Herne Bay, Kent, who is suing for unfair dismissal, said: ‘P&O is exploiting workers. If they get away with it again, it could give others the green light.
P&O said the redundancies came after losses of £100million a year put all 3,000 employees at risk. The company, which declined to comment yesterday, was acquired for £322million in 2019 by Dubai-based DP World, which first owned it in 2006.