BANNER-waving demonstrators took to the streets of Southampton today in a show of solidarity with the 800 workers sacked by P&O Ferries.
People taking part in the protest, staged near Dock Gate 10, called for the employees to be reinstated without loss of pay and for the company to nationalised.
Owned by Southampton container port operator DP World, P&O Ferries has sparked fury by dismissing the seafarers without notice and replacing them with agency staff on lower salaries.
The demonstration coincided with blockades staged at UK ports used by the cross-Channel operator.
Declan Clune, secretary of the Southampton & South West Hampshire Trades Union Council, said: "If P&O get away with this it will open the door to similar attacks on workers everywhere in this country."
The demonstration took place a few hours after it emerged that a P&O Ferries ship was being held in Northern Ireland.
The Southampton-based Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed that the European Causeway had been prevented from leaving Larne.
MCA chiefs cited "failures on crew familiarisation, vessel documentation and crew training".
Mr Clune said: "They are not fully trained on the vessels they are operating. The staff don't know what they are doing."
The RMT union said it welcomed the detention of the European Causeway and demanded the government "seize the entire fleet" of P&O vessels.
The Southampton protest was staged at the junction of Southern Road and West Quay Road. A large number of motorists tooted their backing as they drove past.
Mr Clune said: "We're getting a lot of support. It's an issue that people are very passionate about."
Yesterday Prime Minister Boris Johnson backed Transport Secretary Grant Shapps's call for the chief executive of P&O Ferries to resign.
Peter Hebblethwaite admitted to MPs that the company broke the law by not consulting workers ahead of the job cuts.
He apologised for the distress caused by the mass sackings but claimed they were necessary to save the loss-making business.
Mr Hebblethwaite said workers would be generously compensated - but only if they waived their right to take legal action.
DP World runs the Port of Southampton’s deep water terminal. As reported in the Daily Echo there have been calls for DP World to be ousted from the Solent Freeport scheme.
About 20 people took part today's demonstration. Another is due to take place in Southampton next Saturday.