Union chiefs are demanding an apology after the boss of a leading ferry operator called British workers fat and tattooed.
Pim de Lange, who is on Stena Line’s executive board of directors, told a Dutch trade paper that British workers were “quite fat and covered in tattoos”.
The RMT union, which represents rail maritime and transport workers, said the remarks were “an appalling, abusive and derogatory attack on British ship workers”.
Head of maritime Steve Todd 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.”
All our British and Dutch employees are hugely valued, as are our Filipino staff, says Pim de Lange.
The row comes at a time when RMT 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.
He said: “I regret any offence caused by my comments and apologise.
“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.
“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.”