RMT calls for Irish Ferries boycott

RMT calls for Irish Ferries boycott

29 June 2021

RMT Press Office:

SEAFARERS Union RMT today called on passengers and freight operators to boycott anti-trade union operator Irish Ferries’ Dover-Calais services.

On the day that Irish Ferries began operating passenger and freight ferry services on the Cypriot-registered Isle of Inishmore between Dover and Calais, RMT General Secretary, Mick Lynch, said:

“Seafarer fatigue remains a threat to safety standards across the shipping industry, despite the progress made since the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster thirty-four years ago. Part of that progress has been the agreement of safe roster patterns between employers and local trade unions.

“In stark contrast, Ratings on the Isle of Inishmore are employed on voyage contracts to work at least 12 hours per day, every day. Some are paid below the National Minimum Wage with no pension provision but are still required by Irish Ferries to carry out five times more Channel crossings than their colleagues at P&O before they can take a period of rest.

“Make no mistake, Irish Ferries crewing practices undermine maritime safety and employment standards on ferries which cross the world’s busiest shipping lane up to five times a day. We have written to Irish Ferries CEO, Andrew Sheen to raise our concerns but have not even had the courtesy of an acknowledgement.

“Irish Ferries expansion is a direct threat to the future of British seafarer jobs on strategically vital ferry services and clearly demonstrates the UK Government’s neglect of local seafarers during the pandemic and in the post-Brexit maritime supply chain. RMT call on passengers and businesses to think again before using Irish Ferries and to keep in mind the appalling employment and questionable safety practices at an operator that puts profit before safety.”

Notes to Editors
  1. The Cypriot registered Isle of Inishmore will begin its first sailing from Dover to Calais at 0920 on Tuesday 29 June. The vessel will sail Tuesday-Sunday according to the published schedule https://www.irishferries.com/uk-en/routes-and-times/dover-calais/
  2. Seafarer Ratings employed by P&O Ferries on the Dover-Calais route work one week-on, one week-off. Seafarer Ratings on Irish Ferries vessels work six weeks-on, three-weeks off on a voyage contract. A voyage contract only applies to that voyage – Irish Ferries require seafarer Ratings to re-apply for work at the end of each contract.
  3. A ferry sails five round trips per day between Dover-Calais. That is 35 round trips per week. Seafarers doing 12-hour shifts per day will, as a result do 18 round trips per week.
  4. P&O Ferries crew work 18 round trips between Dover-Calais before they take a week’s paid rest; Irish Ferries crew will work up to 90 round trips across the Channel before they are entitled to a period of rest.
  5. On 6 March 1987, the ro-ro passenger ferry Herald of Free Enterprise capsized off the Belgian coast en route to Dover from Zeebrugge. 193 passengers and crew lost their lives. The subsequent inquiry found that seafarer fatigue was a major causal factor. 
  6. An inspection of the Irish Ferries vessel WB Yeats in Cherbourg by the International Transport Workers Federation revealed the following total monthly salaries (based on 360 hours per month) for the following seafarer grades:
Grade Total monthly salary (€) Hourly rate (€)
Steward (Bar & Galley) 2,330 6.47
Able Seafarer 2,481 6.89
Cook 2,674 7.42
Plumber 2,673 7.42
Reception 2,771 7.69
Bosun 3,382 9.39
  1. As of 1 April 2021, the National Minimum Wage in the UK is £8.91/€10.40 per hour (exchange rate 28 June 2021) and the National Minim Wage in France is €10.20 ph.
  2. RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch wrote to Irish Ferries CEO Andrew Sheen on 6th May 2021 seeking an urgent meeting to discuss Irish Ferries proposals for operations on the Dover-Calais route. The letter was copied to the UK Chamber of Shipping. No acknowledgement or reply has been received by the Union from Irish Ferries to date.
  3. Irish Continental Group Financial Information
Pre-tax Profit (€) 
Annual dividend (€)
The Irish Continental Group’s annual report for 2020 shows an annual loss of €10.4m. A plan to make a dividend payment of €17m was scrapped and no dividend was paid.

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Tagged with: Irish Ferries, Dover, Calais, Boycott, RMT