RMT slams government waiver that allows exploitation

RMT slams government waiver that allows exploitation

24 April 2019

RMT Press Office:

RMT slams government waiver that will allow firms to exploit cheap foreign labour in the UK maritime energy sector

OFFSHORE energy union RMT today attacked the Government’s decision to grant another waiver from immigration rules for offshore wind companies to import non-EEA seafarers to work on vessels that construct and maintain offshore wind farms on the UK Continental Shelf.

General Secretary, Mick Cash said:

“The betrayal of UK seafarers and exploitation of foreign seafarers continues under this failing Government. This immigration waiver has now been in place since October 2016, in which time hundreds more offshore wind turbines have been connected to the grid using exploited crews.

“The construction and installation of wind farms are where most jobs are created yet the Home Office have decided to issue another waiver, the fourth by our count, to allow wind energy companies to profit from importing cheap labour to build and maintain wind farms in UK waters for another year. Last month’s ‘Offshore Wind Sector Deal’ committed the Government to increase the ‘UK content’ of offshore wind projects yet this waiver actively excludes UK seafarers from jobs in the growing offshore wind supply chain, just ahead of the next round of energy pricing for new offshore wind farm projects.

“ The further delay in extending the National Minimum Wage Act to provide some protection for seafarer pay in the offshore energy supply chain is also exposed by this scandalous contempt for British Ratings’ jobs. What we should be seeing is standardization of employment practices in the offshore wind industry and the supply chain to stamp out seafarer exploitation. It is totally unacceptable for this sustainable energy source to be developed on the backs of exploited workers who lack basic employment rights or protections.”


Notes to Editors


  1. The Home Office published this update on its website yesterday https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/796686/offshore-wind-farm-workers-immigration-concession-april-2019.pdf
  2. Since 2016, the Home Office has issued three consecutive from Immigration Rules for employers in the offshore wind sector to continue employing non-EEA workers on construction and maintenance projects in UK territorial waters.  The initial waiver was for a year to October 2017 and another was issued to October 2018, followed by a six-month extension to 21 April 2019. This has now been extended to 21 April 2020.
  3. The International Marine Contractors Association has previously lobbied the Home Office for this waiver and subsequent extensions. The IMCA represents contractors across the offshore wind and decommissioning supply chain.
  4. At present, there are no protections for seafarer Ratings not covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the RMT from extreme low pay. This also affects EU seafarers in the industry (see table below).
  5. A report commissioned by the University of Hull forecast in 2017 that future employment in the domestic offshore wind industry would more than double by 2032, with the number in construction and maintenance of wind turbines increasing from 6,000 today to over 13,000.Fig. 6, pg 10 https://aurawindenergy.com/uploads/files/Cambride-Econometrics-Future-UK-Employment-in-Offshore-Wind-June-2017.pdf
  6. The number of wind turbines on the UKCS is expected to increase by 50% (on 2017 numbers) in the next five years.
  7. New offshore wind farms are licenced by the Crown Estates. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy fixes the price for the energy generated by new offshore wind projects through the ‘Contracts for Difference’ process. The next CfD process in in May 2019.





Vessel & Route

Basic pay

Flag of vessel




Seacosco Yangtze

Great Yarmouth-UKCS (Offshore Wind)

$2.34 p.h.

(Able Seafarer)

Marshall Islands


Edda Passat

Ostenso Rederei,

Grimsby-Race Bank Wind Farm

£3.60 p.h.





Pioneering Spirit

£3.75 p.h.





$45 per day



Gulf Marine Services

GMS Evolution 6104,

Blyth-UKCS (offshore wind)

$2.44 p.h.

(Able Seafarer)



(Source: ITF Inspections and individual contracts of employment 2018-19)



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Tagged with: offshore energy, oilc, seafarers, minimum wage