28 November 2019
RMT Press Office:
Maritime union RMT has announced today that it is calling a protest in Portsmouth targeting rogue operator Condor Ferries to highlight the company’s exploitative and anti-trade union business model.
The call comes in the wake of news that Brittany Ferries and US-owned investment fund Columbia Threadneedle have agreed to buy Condor Ferries in a deal that could be worth up to £300m.
The action will target Condor’s morning sailings on Saturday 30th November at 0730 for a demonstration from 8am at Portsmouth International Port, George Byng Way, Portsmouth PO2 8SP
Condor Ferries’ contract is with the Jersey and Guernsey governments for lifeline ferry services from Portsmouth (freight) and Poole (passengers) to the Channel Islands. Channel Island businesses, including Tesco, Co-op, Iceland and Waitrose rely upon Condor’s freight services and 95% of everything consumed on the Channel Islands arrives from council-owned Portsmouth International Port.
RMT will be using the demonstration to demand that the new owners work with UK and French maritime unions and the Channel Island governments to deliver a new contract that increases and improves jobs and services across Condor’s operations.
Currently, Ukrainian seafarers working on the Condor fleet for 2-month periods are still being paid below the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for a 12-hour working day, 7-day week living on the ship and without trade union or pension rights.
Standard practice in the UK ferry industry is for safe roster patterns of equal time on and time off for seafarers, no longer than two weeks, to avoid fatigue and other factors detrimental to seafarer health and passenger safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“The Condor protest in Portsmouth is part of RMT’s SOS 2020 campaign which highlights exploitation of workers in the shipping industry.
“Only 15% of the 80,560 Ratings jobs in the UK shipping industry are held by UK seafarers. The vast majority are foreign nationals being exploited by crewing agents currently used by companies like Condor to work on-board for months on end for below the minimum wage.
“RMT will be calling on Condor’s new owners to make a fresh start with this lifeline service and work with UK and French maritime unions and the Channel Island governments to deliver a new contract that increases and improves jobs and services across Condor’s operations.”