RMT call to Government on Seafarers Wages Bill

RMT call to Government on Seafarers Wages Bill

26 October 2022

RMT Press Office:

Maritime union RMT today called on the Government to agree to amendments to the Seafarers Wages Bill to recover seafarers’ jobs, skills and employment standards in the UK shipping sector after P&O Ferries unlawful assault on jobs and conditions.

Report Stage in the Lords on 26 October is a chance to amend the legislation to cover more conditions of employment than basic pay, and amendments have been tabled by Labour Peers to achieve this. 

Mick Lynch, RMT General Secretary said: “P&O Ferries unlawful assault on our members’ jobs was rightly condemned across the political spectrum. But no meaningful punishment has been meted out to P&O Ferries, or their directors, so far.  

"If this Bill is going to do anything to restore jobs, skills and collectively bargained standards for our seafarers then the Government has to agree to amendments that take it beyond national minimum wage complexities and onto certainties for crew and decent employers over roster patterns, fair pay and legal protection on international routes from England, Scotland and Wales. We urge this Government to support the Labour amendments to the Bill and fightback to protect our seafarers through levelling up the playing field to recover jobs at the likes of P&O Ferries.”



  1. The Labour Frontbench (Lord Tunnicliffe) has tabled Amendment 5 which requires the Government to report on the impact the Bill has on roster patterns, pay, pensions and industrial relations for seafarers in the ferry and wider shipping industry.
  2. Lord Berkeley’s Amendment 2 would reduce the threshold for ships caught by the Bill from those calling at a UK port 120 times a year to those calling 52 times per year. This would bring thousands more seafarers who are not currently covered by a collective bargaining agreement with the UK maritime unions into the scope of the minimal protections in the Bill, as drafted.
  3. RMT members are writing to the Transport Minister in the Lords, Baroness Vere to demand pro-seafarer reforms to the Bill and will be writing to their MPs when the Bill reaches the Commons. https://www.rmt.org.uk/news/members-updates/seafarers-wages-bill201022/?preview=true
  4. On 17 March 2022, P&O Ferries dismissed 786 directly employed UK Ratings and Officers from their jobs onboard 8 ships via Zoom call. The crew were marched off by handcuff trained private security guards and instantly replaced by agency crew waiting on the quayside.
  5. On 23 March the Prime Minister at the time told the Commons that the Government was “…taking legal action against the company concerned.”
  6. On 30 March the Secretary of State for Transport announced a Nine Point Plan designed to force P&O Ferries to “…fundamentally rethink its decision and send a clear message to the maritime industry that we will not allow this to happen again: that where new laws are needed, we will create them, that where legal loopholes are cynically exploited, we will close them, and that where employment rights are too weak, we will strengthen them.”
  7. The Seafarers Wages Bill was introduced in the House of Lords in July. The purpose of the Government’s Bill is to “grant protection to seafarers working on ships that regularly (at least once every 72 hours) use UK ports by ensuring that they are paid at least an equivalent rate to the UK National Minimum Wage while in UK waters, irrespective of the nationality of the seafarer or flag of the vessel.”
  8. P&O Ferries are already legally obliged to pay at least the National Minimum Wage on its Cairnryan-Larne route. The two Bahamas registered vessels on this route, European Causeway and European Highlander are now entirely crewed by seafarer Ratings from overseas.
  9. On 19 August, the Insolvency Service announced that it would not be launching criminal proceedings against P&O Ferries. The Insolvency Service continue to investigate P&O Ferries for civil offences.
  10. The TUC has also called for another P&O Director, Jesper Kristensen from DP World to be struck off.

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Tagged with: RMT, Mick Lynch, P&O Ferries, DP World, Maritime, Seafarers Wages Bill