Stena Lines boss Pim de Lange’s comments calling British workers as “quite fat and covered in tattoos” have been decried by the UK labour union chiefs. The head of the ferry services which operates between Harwich and the Hook of Holland said it was difficult to find Brit workers who were young and fit for the job. Steve Todd, the head of the maritime at RMT union has said that the comments were “appalling, abusive and derogatory” attack on the British workers.

Lange later said that his comments, made to a Dutch newspaper, were taken out of context. He also expressed regret for any offence caused and apologised. The comments come amid claims that Stena was planning to hire Filipino workers at £2.20 per hour. Lange added that that he hugely valued the contribution of Stena Line’s British and Dutch employees along with the Filipino crews and that they would continue to work together as usual.

RMT is asking for a full retraction of Mr. Lange’s comments and is balloting for an industrial action over the plans to hire the Filipino workers on cheap rates.