Irish Sea maritime campaign

Circular No: NP/0170/18


Our ref: S10/1/18

4th September 2018

Dear Colleagues

Irish Sea maritime campaign

I am writing to inform members that agreement has been reached between your union, the Irish trade union SIPTU and Nautilus to launch a joint maritime campaign to fight for an increase in jobs and training for UK and Irish seafarers on passenger and freight ferries working on Irish Sea routes.

The first target for this campaign is Irish Ferries whose crewing policy since privatisation in 2005 has resulted in thousands of job losses for seafarers in Ireland and the UK. The company (Irish Continental Group) employ other EU and non-EEA seafarers, often on rates of pay below the National Minimum Wages in the Republic of Ireland and the UK. This crewing practice, known as ‘social dumping’ also gives Irish Ferries an unfair advantage over those Irish Sea operators who employ domestic seafarers and abide by Irish and UK employment law.

The three General Secretaries have written to Irish Ferries demanding that pay rates on the company’s new €144m vessel, WB Yeats are above the legal minimum on both sides of the Irish Sea, enabling domestic seafarers to compete for work.

Our three unions are also working jointly and with International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) inspectors to obtain up to date contracts of employment for Catering or OBS Ratings employed on the existing Irish Ferries fleet target.

The Cyprus-registered WB Yeats is due to enter service on the Holyhead-Dublin route later this month. We will undertake co-ordinated protests in Holyhead and Dublin ports when the WB Yeats enters service and you will be updated with the protest details.

The Irish Sea campaign will also target other operators such as Seatruck and P&O who are also exploiting foreign crew and testing employment law to the detriment of seafarer Ratings across Ireland and the UK.

This campaign, which complements the aims of your union’s SOS 2020 campaign, will also address the application of National Minimum Wage rates to provide protection for seafarers employed on international routes. International routes were outside the scope of the UK Government’s recent Legal Working Group on Seafarers and the NMW. Your union is committed to pursuing a viable solution at inter-governmental level on these routes, especially in the Irish Sea where there are legal, enforceable NMWs at the base and destination ports.

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 further developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary