Campaigning by RMT, sister maritime unions and the ETF has forced the European Commission to extend maritime employment rights in a number of key areas, although the union is calling for faster action to ensure that all seafarers secure equal employment rights with other groups of workers across the continent.
The European Commission has proposed to remove the current exclusions of seafarers from 5 key EU employment rights Directives:
- Insolvency Directive
- European Works Council Directive
- Information and Consultation Directive
- Collective Redundancies Directive
- Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) Directive
As important is the decision to continue to exclude seafarers from the Posting of Workers Directive 1996. If extended to the maritime industry, this would have accelerated social dumping of non-EU seafarers on lower rates of pay and resisting this extension represents a particularly important victory for maritime unions. RMT is campaigning against social dumping in the maritime sector.
These changes give seafarers statutory consultation rights in the event of employer insolvency (including loss of earnings), collective redundancies and transfer of undertakings to a new employer. Seafarers will also have the right to participate in European Works Councils.
The EC has proposed a transition period of 5 years for Member States to remove these exclusions from domestic legislation, where they currently exist. RMT argues that the timescale is too slow and allows employers an extended window to continue with current bad practice.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said; “Through letters and parliamentary questions to the Government, RMT supported the ETF campaign to get these exclusions removed and to retain the exclusion of the maritime sector from the Posted Workers Directive. RMT will continue to pursue this matter with Transport and BIS Ministers to ensure that seafarer exclusions from these employment law directives are removed at the earliest opportunity and that the maritime workforce benefits from the same employment regulations as other workers.”