Ferry boss sorry for calling British crew 'fat and tattooed'

21st September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The Dutch director of a ferry company apologised Tuesday for calling British sailors "fat and covered in tattoos" after a furious union boss demanded that he retract his comments.

Pim de Lange, director of Stena Line's North Sea routes including Harwich to Hook of Holland, also claimed it was hard to find British crew who were young and fit enough for the job.

He later said his initial comments, made to Dutch trade newspaper Nieuwsblad Transport, were taken out of context and apologised for any offence he had caused.

De Lange also denied the company intended to make British staff redundant and replace them with lower-paid staff through a recruitment drive in the Philippines.

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

"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.

"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."

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

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

"We want it recognised that British seafarers are the best in the world.

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

© 2010 AFP

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