A Dutch ferry boss has caused controversy by describing Britons wanting jobs on his ships as ‘fat and covered in tattoos’. Pim de Lange, a Dutch director at Stena Line, said British jobseekers were overweight and not fit enough to staff the company’s ferries.
His comments followed reports that Stena was hiring Filipino workers at a rate of Ã‚Â£2.20 an hour on its Brit annica ferry which will run from Harwich, Essex, to the Hook of Holland.
Rail Maritime and Transport Union spokesman Steve Todd said: ‘These remarks are very insulting, der ogatory and derisory. We are looking not just for a retraction and apology but for Stena Line to also disassociate themselves from these remarks.
‘I find it very hard to comprehend how the manager of a group like this could make such remarks and expect to get away with it.’
The RMT claims 300 British sailors have been made redundant by Stena in the past two years and had considered a ballot on strike action.
It claims the ferry operator is exploiting a loophole in the Race Relations Act to recruit workers from the Philippines and pay them Ã‚Â£2.20 an hour – a fraction of the minimum wage of Ã‚Â£5.80.
But, in an interview with a Dutch newspaper, Mr de Lange, said the company found it difficult to find properly trained British workers.
They had ‘fat bellies’ and were ‘covered in tattoos’, he added.
Mr de Lange, Stena’s director of operations in the North Sea, apologised for his comments yesterday, claiming they had been taken out of context and that he was not referring to existing British crew members.
He added: ‘Sometimes you get people who do not want to work and are not in a good position with fat. ‘Some of these people are quite fat and with tattoos and that’s it.
‘That is the truth, unfortunately. I have nothing against the British, they are as dear to me as the Dutch.
I regret it has gotten into the paper like that but what’s done is done.’ Stena refused to comment on Mr de Lange’s remarks but said in a
statement: ‘We have not been on a recruitment drive in the Philippines and are not making any UK seafarers redundant.’