Union angry at attack on 'fat' Britons

Union chiefs called on a ferry boss today to retract comments that labelled Britons as "quite fat and covered in tattoos".

Steve Todd, head of maritime at the RMT union, said Pim de Lange's remarks were an "appalling, abusive and derogatory" attack.

The director of Stena Line's North Sea routes, which operate between Harwich and the Hook of Holland, also said it was hard to find British workers who were young and fit for the job.

He later said his initial comments, made to a Dutch newspaper, were taken out of context.

And he added in a statement that he regretted any offence he had caused and apologised.

But Mr Todd said Mr de Lange had not gone far enough.

"It's an appalling, abusive and derogatory attack on British ship workers," he said.

"RMT is demanding a full retraction of all the statements he has made and a full apology to all British seafarers for his behaviour.

"These are people who have helped generate huge profits for Stena. We want it recognised that British seafarers are the best in the world.

"I think his comments subsequently have been wholly inadequate."

The row comes at a time when RMT, which represents rail, maritime and transport workers, is balloting for industrial action.

It follows claims that Stena Line, whose head office is in Sweden, was planning to hire Filipino workers on rates of £2.20 an hour.

Dutchman Mr de Lange insisted the company was committed to maintaining a mix of British, Dutch and Filipino employees.

"I regret any offence caused by my comments and apologise," he said.

"I hugely value the contribution of our British and Dutch employees, along with our Filipino crew, and as usual we will continue to work together.

"Our employee mix and pay scales on our new superferry, the Stena Britannica, will be the same as previously.

"Contrary to media coverage, we have not been on a recruitment drive in the Philippines and are not making any UK seafarers redundant, but instead will continue to employ a mix of British, Dutch and Filipino workers, as we have always done.

"At present, with the new Stena Hollandica sailing and the new Stena Britannica launching in October, our employment ratio of nationalities is very similar to previous years.

"On the new superferry we will employ more UK seafarers than on the present Stena Britannica.

"All oUr British and Dutch employees are hugely valued, as are our Filipino staff, who have an excellent reputation for hospitality services, which we and our customers value enormously."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links