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In response, the government published a policy document on
Shipowners can continue to replace UK seafarers due to the lack of employment protection for workers in the industry. They continue to enjoy an exemption from the provisions of the 1976 Race Relations Act which allows them to pay exploitative rates to foreign national seafarers recruited abroad.
RMT have no objections to the employment of foreign nationals so long as they are receive legitimate rates of pay, and equivalent periods of leave to UK seafarers, for undertaking the work in UK workplaces.
It has also emerged that the national minimum wage does not apply to UK seafarers on board UK ships whilst in UK territorial waters; the legislation only applies whilst the ship is in port or UK internal waters.
The lack of regulation and social protection for UK seafarers has seen their continued replacement by low cost foreign national seafarers. In addition other cut backs have recently occurred in the UK ferry sector. In recent years P&O Ferries have dismissed 1,500 UK seafarers involving the closure of a number of key ferry routes, and there have been further dismissals elsewhere in the industry.