Our Ref: SH/5/6
23rd March 2020
Payment of Wages and Sick Pay Arrangements, Coronavirus - Stena Line
Further to my letter dated 18th March 2020, I would like to start off by paying tribute to the work that you and your colleagues are undertaking at the moment. The nation is relying on its seafarers to keep the vessels transporting the everyday essentials that the UK and Ireland require. The current circumstances as you will be fully aware are unprecedented. I would also like to thank your Representatives who have also been under a lot of pressure in the past fortnight to keep the union functioning in your workplace.
Obviously, you and your colleagues have raised many of questions regarding self-isolation, social distancing and hygiene at work. Rest assured that your union is in the process of raising these concerns with management. However, at this moment in time Stena Line has been unable to answer every question definitively. This is mainly due to the government’s own guidance changing on daily basis, but also to the complexity of the maritime sector.
As I indicated in my last letter the RMT was seeking an urgent meeting with Stena Line to discuss their unilateral decision to suspend the company sick pay scheme. Members will no doubt be aware that the UK government announced that it will pay 80% of the salary of staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month, during this global health pandemic. The union is also awaiting a similar announcement from the Irish government, which will have implications for our members who are Irish nationals working for Stena Line. In light of this, I have written to the company demanding a commitment that they will immediately stop all plans to withdraw company sick pay.
Your union is trying to resolve these issues with your employer, however, as I indicated beforehand the maritime industry is unique and this union has to deal with overlapping jurisdictions which makes getting conclusive resolutions to any matter difficult. Additionally, your union is in active in dialogue with the Department of Transport, the flag state administrations and the MCA regarding wage and job protection, as well as health and safety issues for our members at Stena Line. I am sure you will appreciate the complexity and the fluidity of the situation and would ask you to be as patient as possible.
I trust this keeps you fully advised and I will write again when there are new developments.