Boris Johnson’s bluster

Boris Johnson’s bluster

6 October 2021

RMT Press Office:

Boris Johnson’s bluster on Tories supporting UK employment and wage growth blown away by massive decline in UK seafarers and the growth of poverty wages as RMT calls for summit to protect jobs.

RMT, the union for UK seafarers, today released figures showing that Boris Johnson’s bluster on Tories supporting UK employment and wage growth is blown away by statistics revealing a massive decline in UK seafarer employment, compounded by poverty wages in the maritime sector.

The union released figures showing in 2012 UK Ratings held only 9,330 (17%) of the total number of Seafaring Ratings jobs while 52,960 (78%) were held by non-UK Ratings.

These figures got even worse in the subsequent years of Tory rule. In 2020 UK Seafarer Ratings held only 9,060 (13%) of the total number of Ratings jobs while 65, 670 jobs (84%) were held by non-UK Ratings.

The lack of action to protect UK jobs has spread to the offshore sector where since 2017 the Home Office has repeatedly issued temporary waivers from immigration rules for offshore wind employers to import overseas crews to work on construction and maintenance projects in UK territorial waters.

And in stark contrast to the high wage economy promoted by the Prime Minister the lack of action to protect maritime and offshore employment has been underpinned by the government giving the green light to poverty wages where there are examples of rates of pay below £4 an hour in the offshore and maritime sector.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:

“Boris Johnson’s bluster on Tories supporting UK employment and wage growth is blown away by statistics showing a massive decline in UK seafarer rating jobs, compounded by poverty wages in the maritime and offshore sector.

“As a direct result of his Tory policies, we are rapidly approaching the day when only 1 in 10 Ratings jobs will be held by UK seafarers. The failure to comprehensively tackle sub-minimum wages and repeatedly granting employers waivers from immigration rules are turbo charging the decline in UK employment and eating away at the domestic skills base just as demand is set to increase.

“It could be so different, as we should be creating tens of thousands of high quality, high skilled and high paid UK maritime and offshore jobs.

“I will be writing to the Prime Minister, asking that he turns rhetoric into reality and as a first step agrees to a summit to protect and create jobs in the maritime and offshore sector.”

Notes for Editors
 
  1. Ratings statistics quoted are taken from the DfT’s 2020 seafarer statistics (Table SFR0303) https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/seafarer-statistics-sfr
  2. The NMW was extended to cover seafarers in UK territorial waters and to offshore installations on the UK Continental Shelf on 1 October 2020. 
  3. RMT has uncovered cases of non-compliance in the offshore wind sector where crew were being paid £3.94 an hour. 
  4. It remains legal to pay seafarers below NMW rates on international routes from UK ports, including the ferries sector. Irish Ferries, who operate between Wales and the Republic of Ireland and on another logistically critical route, Dover-Calais, pay non-UK Ratings as little as £5.51 per hour on their Cypriot registered fleet.
  5. In 2017, the Home Office released a temporary waiver from immigration rules for offshore wind employers to import crews from non-EEA countries to work on construction and maintenance projects in UK territorial waters. Another five temporary waivers have followed. The current waiver expires in July 2022. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/offshore-wind-workers-immigration-rules-concession-2017/offshore-wind-workers-immigration-rules-concession-2017-july-2021-update

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Tagged with: Seafarers, Ratings, Boris Johnson, Conservative conference, Tory Government, UK