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18 January 2018
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns that new government guidance on Seafarers’ minimum wage shot full of holes
SEAFARER RATINGS union RMT has raised alarm over new government guidance on the National Minimum Wage and seafarers warning that it will not tackle chronic low pay to foreign seafarers which is driving the decline of UK seafarer numbers and the national maritime skills base, including on routes between UK ports and to the offshore oil and gas sector.
It has also been released ahead of recommendations from an expert working group, including RMT and sister maritime union Nautilus, employers and Government departments which has been looking at improving the application and enforcement of the NMW for all seafarers in the UK shipping industry.
Steve Todd, RMT National Secretary said:
“The issues of National Minimum Wage and the Equality Act protections for seafarers are about where vessels start and end their journey. This new guidance does little to end problems around applying and enforcing NMW rates of pay for seafarers and preventing nationality based pay discrimination in the UK shipping industry, which sees UK seafarers undercut by migrant workers and is driving the long term decline in UK Ratings and our maritime skills base.
“As the Working Group on seafarers and the NMW, on which BEIS sat along with the UK maritime unions and the employers agreed in November, NMW pay rates should be applied and enforced for all seafarers working on vessels between UK ports and to the offshore oil and gas industry on the UK continental shelf. It is constant pressure from RMT and the trade unions over a long period of hard campaigning that has kept this issue in the public eye and forced the Government to respond. That campaign continues.
“It is unacceptable that changes to the machinery of Government seem to have resulted in an attack on UK seafarers and the continuation of the exploitation of foreign seafarers working from and between UK ports. We will be seeking an immediate response from the Government, as this is totally unacceptable.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“This will not help UK seafarers compete for jobs on vessels working between UK ports and from UK ports to offshore energy installations where seafarers from other EU countries can be paid as low as £3.78 per hour and non-EU seafarers even lower, at £2.41 per hour on UK flagged ships. Our members who have lost their jobs on offshore supply and standby vessels as a result of the fall in oil prices in 2014 will be particularly outraged by this.
“RMT will be seeking immediate answers from the Government as to why they have jumped the gun on this issue and shut seafarers out of effective protections of their employment and equality rights.”