Seafarer Jobs on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) - UPDATE

Circular No: NP/0106/21


Our ref: S1/2

7th April 2021

Dear Colleagues

Seafarer Jobs on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) - UPDATE

I write to alert you to the result that your Union has achieved for UK Ratings at Swedish offshore accommodation company Floatel.

In 2019, the Union raised concerns over low cost crewing on Floatel’s fleet, particularly the Bermudan-flagged Floatel Victory after it had been awarded a contract by INEOS in the oil and gas sector of the UKCS. Bermuda is a Flag of Convenience register. Filipino Ratings on Floatel’s ships are paid below the National Minimum Wage, have no access to National Insurance or auto-enrolment pension schemes and lack other basic employment rights which should be automatically enforced for UK seafarers.

The INEOS contract for the Floatel Victory was due to start in 2020 but was postponed by the Coronavirus pandemic until April 2021. Following further discussion with our comrades in Norwegian Union IndustriEnergi, it was confirmed that the company intended to crew the vessel with Filipino Ratings.

As a result, the RMT met with Floatel to inform them that they should comply with the ITF Offshore Policy by signing an ITF agreement with their local ITF affiliate, the Swedish seafarers union SEKO. The employer was also reminded that since 1st October 2020, the UK National Minimum Wage is the legal base for seafarer pay on the UKCS.

This is in line with the ITF’s Offshore Continental Shelf Policy which states at paragraph 4: “…the general rule to be observed should require that the ‘maritime crew’ be nationals or residents of the national flag state or the continental shelf state and are members of an ITF seafarer affiliate. In those instances where the ‘unit’ is operating under a flag of convenience the negotiating rights lie with the unions in the country of beneficial ownership.”

I am pleased to report that Floatel has agreed to sign an ITF agreement with SEKO as instructed and will employ UK Ratings in 36 out of 39 positions on the Floatel Victory. In addition, the pay and employment conditions of the 17 UK catering Ratings onboard will be covered under the COTA national agreement to which the RMT is a signatory. The pay for Motorman and AB grades on the ship have also been uplifted, in line with the RMT’s demand.

We have also requested that Floatel negotiate with the RMT over crewing on their vessels whenever they win contracts for work on the UKCS. There is more work to be done to improve Ratings’ pay and conditions on Floatel and other vessels working in the offshore sector but these contractual improvements put seafarers well above the exploitative rates advertised in the sector by unscrupulous crewing agents. The inclusion of the Catering crew under RMT’s national collective agreement for offshore caterers (COTA) is also a major step forward.

This is a victory for RMT in the fight to claim jobs back for UK Ratings and to re-build membership in the maritime sector. It also highlights the role that ITF policies can play in securing jobs for local Ratings in the offshore supply chain.

I would be grateful if you would share this update with maritime and offshore members in your branch or region and I will keep you informed of further developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary