Our Ref: SH/5/9

4TH June 2021

Dear Colleague,
Further to previous correspondence you will be aware the union has been carrying out a referendum of you and your colleagues on the company’s sick pay proposals. A few days ago it came to light that the company were not intending to apply this policy to all Stena Line members. Shockingly, they state that VT1/2 docker staff and those on Legacy contracts who TUPE transferred in from Norse Merchant Ferries in 2010, would not come under the Sick pay policy on which all Stena members have been voting. This has come as a considerable shock to your union as we have always understood that this applies to all Stena staff without exception. At this stage we are unable to declare the result of the referendum due to this very important change to the current situation.
I am sure many of you will have seen the company communication on 2nd June 2021 and we believe we need to advise you of RMT position in light of their statement. Stena’s proposal clearly states that it relates to ”ALL EMPLOYEES” and all correspondence on all occasions has been sent to all employees never excluding any particular element of the workforce. Your lead officer also reports that at no time during discussions has the company ever referred to any such exclusion and as such we completely refute their position.

You will no doubt be conscious of communication from the company but for ease of reference we have extracted details about the impact from company communication to you as individuals as below:

On the 25th March 2020 in the company’s communication to all employees within the Irish Sea your employer stated the following:

“Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Last week we took the very difficult decision to suspend one of our employee benefits, that of our comprehensive sick pay entitlement. We will now be reverting to Statutory Sick Pay to cover all our people eligible in the UK and the Republic of Ireland (including those on board the Stena Estrid and Stena Edda). However, we will be maintaining the provision of company sick pay for those currently absent with long-term conditions.

These are very difficult times and while we appreciate that many of you will be affected by this decision, we must limit the impact the crisis is having on our business and, where possible, take measures to ensure we can continue to operate. This decision and the many other hard decisions we are having to make is about securing the future of Stena Line. We hope all of you can work with us to help navigate the company through this difficult period.”

On the 3rd of November 2020 the company sent communication to all employees which contained the following:

“When the Company Sick Pay Scheme was initially suspended, the Company agreed that it would revisit it, with a view to reinstating a new Scheme for all our employees. The Company has now commenced those discussions with the unions. A collective meeting was held on the 8 October 2020, with a view to introducing a new scheme in 2021.”

On the 23rd December 2020 in communication from the company the following was stated:

“When the Company Sick Pay Scheme was initially suspended, the Company agreed that it would revisit it, and advised you and your unions, with a view to reinstating a new scheme for all of our employees.

A communication from Fiona Paton on the 5th February 2021 the following was stated:

“It is important to the Company that the union garner views not only of union members but of the whole collective bargaining group. To this end, we would request that RMT’s referendum communication is sent to all employees in the relevant groups (port workers and seafarers). This could be facilitated via the HR Service Centre. It can be made clear that the communication is a union communication not a Company one and wording can be agreed with the National Secretary.”

On the 16th February 2021 in communication to all employees in which the company outlined the views of all trade unions the following was stated:

“RMT (Seafarers: Ratings & PSO/Dockers in UK)
RMT have not accepted the final Company Sick Pay offer and remain formally ‘in dispute’ with Stena Line.
All employees in the collective bargaining groups that have not accepted will therefore remain on Statutory Sick Pay.”

In the company’s final proposal which was sent to RMT members for consideration after delays surrounding the terminology to be included within the proposal, of which we must also remind our members that those bargaining groups which have already accepted an inferior scheme will receive as the company wanted uniformity across all employees.  
The company’s final proposal stated:

“1 Sept 2021 onwards:

All employees with over 1 years’ service to receive Company Sick Pay (CSP) @75% from Day 1 of absence.
SSP for first year of service
CSP is capped at a maximum of 12 months

In the event that an employee’s absence should commence prior to 31 August 2021 and continue after 1 September 2021, consistent with standard practice the employee would remain on the terms which applied at the start of their absence.

Temporary COVID CSP
With effect from 1 January 2021 the following provisions will apply regardless of an employee’s length of service:

CSP at a rate of 75% (from the first day of absence) for all employees absent following a positive COVID-19 test result from one of the UK/Ireland’s National Test Centres (PCR test). Effective from1 January 2021 and for a period up to 16 weeks.”

This situation has been reported to the union’s NEC which has expressed our extreme disappointment at the company’s decision once again to move the goal posts at the end of protracted negotiations. At this stage we are formulating our response carefully and will be considering all options available to us at this moment in time including the potential use our mandate for industrial action given to us by you and your colleagues.
I will keep members fully informed of developments.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary