Campaign against Irish Ferries

Circular No: NP/284/21
Our ref: S1/21 
4th August 2021
Dear Colleagues
Campaign against Irish Ferries
Further to Circular No. 176/21 of 24th May 2021, I am writing to update members on the campaign against Irish Ferries and the actions I am taking in line with the National Executive Committee’s recent decision.
Information from a recent ITF inspection of another Irish Ferries vessel in France confirm that Ratings are employed on voyage only contracts for twelve hours a day, seven days a week for up to 8 weeks. This means that crew on the Isle of Inishmore undertake five times the number of Channel crossings before a period of leave than their colleagues at P&O Ferries on the same route. This clearly increases the risk of seafarer fatigue and undermines maritime safety standards in the Channel, home to the world’s busiest shipping lanes. 
Irish Ferries’ Ratings are also paid below the National Minimum Wage[1]:
Pay rates on WB Yeats (Rosslare-Cherbourg) June 2021
Total monthly salary (€)
Hourly rate (€)
Steward (Bar & Galley)
Able Seafarer
We know from Irish Ferries operation on the Holyhead-Dublin route that this anti-trade union employer uses fleet wide Seafarer Employment Agreements through Cypriot based crewing agent Matrix Shipping. As a result, pay and conditions for crew on the WB Yeats and the Isle of Inishmore will be the same. Both vessels are registered in Cyprus, a flag of convenience.
In line with the NEC’s decision of 27th July 2021, I have written an open letter to local politicians, press and the UK Government demanding action to tackle Irish Ferries and to prevent their anti-worker contagion from spreading to other operators in Dover and elsewhere. A leaflet is also being prepared which will be handed out locally to build public support in Dover for the RMT’s campaign against this employer who is destroying local jobs and training.
Co-Chair of the RMT Parliamentary Group, Grahame Morris MP tabled Early Day Motion 359 in the Commons before the summer recess to highlight the union’s grave concerns over Irish Ferries post-Brexit expansion into Dover. This has received cross party support and will be pushed again when MPs return from the summer recess in September.
In September last year, Shipping Minister Robert Courts MP said to the cross-party Transport Select Committee: I can be quite clear: what I want to see is that those who operate in and around UK waters use a UK workforce wherever possible… I will also consider whether there is any policy intervention that it might be appropriate for the Department to make at some stage.” 
The local Tory MP, Natalie Elphicke and her Government are failing, miserably to deliver jobs and training for UK seafarers in Dover and across the country. This cannot be blamed on the pandemic and Brexit should make it possible to intervene in the market to end seafarer discrimination on ships working between UK and European ports. 
We have been clear in all communications and political meetings on Irish Ferries that a failure to tackle this crewing model risks a spread of this contagion to P&O, DFDS and others in the ferry industry who are being undercut by this predatory employer. The time for action is overdue and your Union will continue to fight tooth and nail to persuade politicians to create jobs and training for UK Ratings.
I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of members in your branch and you will be kept updated with all further developments.
Yours sincerely
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Michael Lynch
General Secretary
[1] The UK NMW is £8.91/€10.00 per hour (04.08.21 exchange rate). The NMW in France is €10.20 ph.
[1] £8.00 per hour at current (04.08.21) exchange rates.

[1] The UK NMW is £8.91/€10.00 per hour (04.08.21 exchange rate). The NMW in France is €10.20 ph.
[2] £8.00 per hour at current (04.08.21) exchange rates.