18 June 2014
RMT Press Office
SHIPPING UNION RMT today demanded urgent action from the Scottish and UK Governments, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the ITF, over the scandalous exploitation of a group of Estonian shippers working for CalMac on a time chartered freight vessel between Ullapool and Stornoway.
The seafarers are working on the Isle of Man flagged Clipper Ranger, chartered by CalMac from a company called Seatruck under the terms of CalMac’s contract with the Scottish Government for lifeline ferry services on the Clyde and Hebrides network. Estonian ratings on the Clipper are paid as little as £4.19 per hour and although CalMac have agreed to make the payment to bring these shippers up to the RMT rate for ratings on the Clyde and Hebrides network, Seatruck have callously refused to accept this payment, as it clearly threatens their rotten operation.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“This scandal goes right to the very heart of the RMT’s “Ships of Shame” campaign - low cost crewing of an Isle of Man vessel that works between UK ports and is crewed by Estonians employed on poverty pay below the National Minimum Wage. That is the kind of murky and shadowy operation that is the norm in the British shipping industry in 2014, even on lifeline ferry services to Scottish island communities. The fact that is happening on a route under the control of the Scottish Government raises serious questions about just how seriously they take the issue of exploitation in their back yard.
“We are in no doubt that if Seatruck are allowed to get away with this shocking undermining of pay and conditions they will see it as establishing a toe-hold that will enable them to expand their operations across the Scottish Ferry services – destroying jobs and decent pay and conditions in their wake. It is no accident that they are making this anti-union stand prior to the tendering process for the 2016-22 Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services contract which starts in the autumn.
“Today we have written to all of the authorities involved, including the Scottish Government who have appear to have fallen asleep at the wheel on this one, demanding that they intervene to end this outrageous situation on a ship sailing between Ullapool and Stornoway. We have no intention whatsoever of allowing this situation to continue and we hope that by exposing it, and by demanding action, it will help shine a spotlight on the shadowy and greedy operations of the leaches feeding off the British shipping industry.”