23 March 2023
RMT Press Office
Maritime union, RMT has warned that new Freeports must not lead to attacks on working conditions and super exploitation of seafarers in Holyhead, Milford Haven and Port Talbot.
The union was reacting to news that two sites in Wales will be gain Freeport status meaning there will be special exemption from tax rates, customs rules and other regulations.
Business leaders and the government claim the move will lead to job creation and increased economic activity.
But RMT has warned that this must not lead to the exploitation of cheap labour, deregulation and a reduction in safety standards.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “Our union welcomes job creation in port towns but it cannot be done on the cheap, through lowering standards around safety, pay and conditions.
"We welcome the Welsh Government’s condition of Workers Consultative Forums in Freeports in Wales and look forward to further details on how we can engage on behalf of our members.
“Freeports are the Government’s core post Brexit strategy for creating jobs, but we have seen little evidence of that at the sites in England or Scotland so far and we will industrially oppose any attempt by employers to take advantage of lighter regulation to attack existing terms and conditions of our members already employed at these sites. And any jobs created in these Freeports must be covered by collectively bargained terms and conditions, alongside plans to train up a new generation of seafarers and dockers in Wales through effective apprenticeship schemes.”
The Anglesey Freeport will be based around Holyhead, Rhosgoch, Anglesey prosperity zone, and science park M-Sparc. The bid is being led by Stena Ports which also operates Stena Line ferry services to Dublin. Offshore wind manufacturing and operation and maintenance bases could create hundreds of seafarer and port jobs.
Celtic Freeport will be based around Port Talbot and Milford Haven ports, in the counties of Neath Port Talbot and Pembrokeshire.
Both proposals include plans to develop rail infrastructure.
At present, no further education colleges in Wales provide maritime apprenticeships for people looking to train to become a seafarer. https://careerswales.gov.wales/job-information/merchant-navy-rating/how-to-become