14 July 2017
RMT Press Office
RMT launches formal Gulfmark complaints over abuses of Maritime Convention in UK waters
SEAFARER UNION RMT today launched complaints to UK Government regulators to take action against UK-Flagged offshore supply vessels owned by Gulfmark where UK Ratings have been replaced by non-EEA seafarers on basic rates of pay as low as $3.41 per hour, in contravention of the Maritime Labour Convention.
The complaint comes following the scandal of the North Promise a UK flagged offshore supply vessel operating between Aberdeen and oil and gas installations in the UK sector of the North Sea. Crews on this and other supply vessels have had their pay and conditions undermined and undercut in contravention of union agreements. It is just the latest in a series of seafarer pay scandals in UK waters.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash stated:
“We can no longer tolerate the Red Ensign being used as a cloak of respectability for social dumping or the systematic replacement of UK Ratings with seafarers from thousands of miles away who are recruited to work for poverty wages on vessels from UK ports.
“The crew on the North Promise are not being employed or paid in line with the collective bargaining agreement covering that vessel, which was signed by UK maritime unions, including RMT. Action must be taken to stop this race to the lowest levels of pay and conditions and to fully enforce the MLC.
“The Government have rightly acknowledged the problem of NMW application and enforcement for seafarers but we need action now to tackle the entrenched issue of seafarer pay inequality on vessels like this, otherwise the UK’s economically vital maritime skills base will be lost.”
Steve Todd, RMT National Secretary said:
"We have a problem with this Gulfmark vessel which shines a light on an industry-wide practice that should no longer be tolerated by the Government or the reformed UK Register. Government agencies, specifically the Maritime Coastguard Agency and HMRC need to respond to the case of the North Promise, and quickly.
"Migrant seafarers on this vessel and across the international shipping industry are treated almost as if they are lucky to receive a wage at all and ultimately that exploitation is getting worse and we are encountering it more and more on vessels, including those flying the Red Ensign in the North Sea oil and gas industry.
"The MLC is being undermined, wages are appallingly low and employment, equality and immigration laws are flouted by crewing agents to provide the cheapest seafarer Ratings possible. This is more like modern slavery than a modern shipping industry."
Notes to Editors
1. The Seafarers Employment Agreement (required under the Maritime Labour Convention) for Filipino Ratings on the North Promise states that they are contracted to work a basic 173 hours per month for $590.