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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago