31 March 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT warns that new National Minimum Wage will push more non-UK seafarers below the legal floor.
SHIPPING UNION RMT said today that putting up the NMW to £7.20 per hour for 25 year olds and over from tomorrow (April 1st) will have the unwanted knock-on effect of pushing more seafarers in the UK shipping industry below the legal minimum as the Government continues to drags its feet over addressing this form of avoidance.
RMT estimates 8,300 ratings in the UK shipping industry are paid below the current NMW of £6.70, and Early Day Motion on the issue (EDM 1291*) has attracted cross party support for increasing powers of HMRC to investigate third party complaints of NMW breaches, as recommended by the Low Pay Commission. The union says that third party complaints are crucial to effective enforcement in the shipping industry for non-UK seafarers who are deterred from complaining of UK minimum wage breaches by the short term nature of their contracts and the risk of blacklisting by recruitment agencies in their own country.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“A 50p increase in the legal minimum hourly wage is welcome but the public must be under no illusions over the lack of impact in industries like shipping, where we estimate 8,300 seafarers with links to the UK shipping industry are already earning under £6.70 per hour. Putting the legal minimum up to £7.20 p.h. for workers aged 25 or over will inevitably place more non-UK ratings below the National Living Wage. The implications for employers who are in breach of the statutory minimum wage rates must be clearly explained by the Government and a strategy for effective enforcement in the shipping industry must be worked up with the maritime unions and introduced as soon as possible.”
National Secretary, Steve Todd commented:
“We welcome the 7.4% in the minimum wage for workers, albeit only for those aged 25 and over. However, the Government must be prepared to step up enforcement action and investigatory powers if the National Living Wage is to provide a legal safety net for all seafarers working in the UK shipping industry. At a time when the Government is de-regulating the maritime sector in order to attract more international ship owners to the UK Flag, enforcing seafarer employment rights is absolutely essential, otherwise it will be business as usual for employers. As noted in EDM 1291, we estimate that around 8,300 non-UK seafarer ratings are already being paid below the National Minimum Wage of £6.70 per hour. The Government must develop its enforcement strategy for shipping, including the acceptance of the Low Pay Commission’s recent recommendation on increasing the effectiveness of third party complaints of minimum wage breaches.”