21 November 2019
RMT Press Office:
Maritime union RMT has today welcomed the commitment in Labour’s manifesto to take action to end nationality-based discrimination in seafarers pay.
Currently the law treats the maritime industry as a “special case”, resulting in widespread discrimination against foreign seafarers.
This super exploitation on merchant ships in UK waters sees basic rates of pay as low as £1.83 per hour and industry-wide undercutting, leading to tens of thousands of jobs being held by non-UK seafarers.
This undercutting and super exploitation has persisted despite many of the shipping corporations who practise pay discrimination receiving a slice from over £1 billion in corporation tax relief in the last decade.
Labour’s proposed reform was first recommended by the independent Carter report commissioned by the Government in late 2009 but was not enacted during the last 9 years of Conservative led administrations. The Carter report said,
“The issue is whether to outlaw [seafarer pay] differentials altogether bringing the shipping industry in line with other industries. I could find no reason for making a special case for the shipping industry.
“On the basis of the evidence submitted, I recommend outlawing the practice of nationality-based pay differentials for seafarers altogether.”
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said today:
“For all the talk of the Tories wanting to protect UK wages and jobs the truth is that under their watch they have teamed up with super wealthy shipping corporations to defend a form of discrimination that holds rates of pay in the UK shipping down, as low as £1.83 an hour in some cases.
“This has also led to widespread undercutting and the loss of thousands of UK jobs while at the same shipping corporations have been handed tax breaks of over £1 billion through the outdated Tonnage Tax scheme.
“We welcome this long overdue reform which will drive a maritime renaissance by creating thousands of skilled UK seafarer ratings jobs, bringing the UK’s heritage of maritime policy into the twenty-first century.”