30 January 2019
RMT Press Office:
RMT demands answers as scandal deepens over award of Government Brexit ferry contracts.
MARITIME UNION RMT today demanded answers from the Government over the terms and conditions of workers on their Brexit ferry contracts, and the publication of their legal advice on the procurement process, as the Chair of the Transport Select Committee released correspondence that raises serious questions about the emergency award procedure of the work to Seaborne Freight and others.
RMT has taken protests to the DfT and Ramsgate and Portsmouth ports demanding that the jobs on the new services go to British seafarers on proper, union-recognised wages and conditions.
To date there has been no response at all from Chris Grayling to the three key RMT demands:
1. All ferries to be fully crewed up with UK ratings.
2. Recognition of UK trade unions.
3. UK employment laws to be fully complied with.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“There is a growing scandal over the award of these Brexit ferry contracts and the behaviour to date of Chris Grayling suggests that he is orchestrating yet another stitch up of the British seafarers while ladling out public money to the likes of Seaborne Freight.
“The government have already refused to say whether they will abide with employment law such as paying the UK minimum wage on these publicly-funded services and now it seems there is a real case to answer that they have also breached of procurement law in the awarding of the contracts.
“This is a national disgrace that gets murkier by the day and the Government now need to come clean and publish the legal advice they received around the awarding of these contracts.”
The Chair of the Transport Select Committee, Lilian Greenwood MP, commented:
“The Government told the House of Commons that it was necessary to arrange these contracts using an emergency measure exemption to bypass the normal procurement process. The Secretary of State said there were ‘reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority’.
“Today we publish my correspondence with the Secretary of State requesting further explanation about why this was necessary and the processes it undertook to reach these decisions.
“Shortly after the Secretary of State’s announcement that the contracts had been awarded, the Transport Committee received two written submissions to our inquiry into Freight and Brexit, which alleged the Department acted illegally in securing these contracts without a full procurement process. The authors of the evidence raised significant concerns which led us to write again to the Secretary of State, asking him to respond to the allegations.
“It seems extraordinary to me that the Government’s response fails both to provide any additional insight into why the Department used emergency powers in the award of the contracts, and to respond to the substance of our questions about the Department’s process for securing them. This was an opportunity for the Secretary of State to put the record straight.
“This cursory reply is no way to respond to the Committee’s efforts to scrutinise the Government’s decision to use emergency powers to award contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds. We made the Secretary of State aware that the Committee would make the exchange public and today, we publish this correspondence so that the questions we have raised and the Department’s response can be open to