6 February 2023
RMT Press Office:
Maritime union, RMT has written to the Transport Secretary demanding that the government beef up its Seafarers Wages Bill with greater protections for crews on ships.
The Seafarers Wages Bill, in its current form, only provides for a limited extension of the National Minimum Wage to seafarers on international routes from UK ports.
The bill should refer to the broader terms and conditions contained in the charter, as a Labour amendment calls for.
The union wrote to Transport Secretary, Mark Harper last week demanding that the government circulate the Seafarers Charter before the report stage of the bill on Tuesday (7 Feb).
Waiting for the Bill to pass before releasing a voluntary seafarer welfare charter, not only lets P&O off the hook it preserves a culture of seafarer exploitation which the Government claim they want to tackle as quickly as possible.
In the letter, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch writes:
"As we approach the first anniversary of this disgraceful assault on seafarer jobs and rights in our maritime communities, RMT request that the Government now circulate the latest copy of the Seafarer Welfare Charter to Unions and employers. We are extremely concerned by the Government’s removal of an agreed roster pattern (based on our collective agreements with Stena Line and DFDS) and the restriction on trade union membership of the Seafarer Protection Forum, the implementation mechanism for what the Government intend to be a voluntary Charter. We hope that the Government’s final draft of the Charter has addressed these short comings in the interests of seafarer employment and welfare standards.
"We welcome the Government’s engagement with RMT and Nautilus over the Nine Point Plan. We also support the Government’s negotiations with governmental counterparts in France, Ireland, Belgium, Holland and other countries on short sea shipping routes from the UK, although we are disappointed that progress seems to be limited to the Channel routes between the UK and France.
"The remaining parliamentary stages of the Seafarers’ Wages Bill are imminent and seafarer unions and parliamentarians must have sight of the latest version of the Seafarers Welfare Charter in the interests of primary legislation which effectively tackles the exploitative crewing model used by P&O Ferries and other operators of international services in UK ports.
"We look forward to receiving a copy of the Government’s proposed Seafarer Welfare Charter before the Commons Report Stage of the Seafarers Wages Bill."