SEAFARER RATINGS union RMT today responded with outrage to confirmation from UK ship owners that new Government guidance on seafarers and the National Minimum Wage will do nothing to tackle the sub-NMW pay rates which are rife in the UK merchant shipping industry.
Comments from the UK Chamber of Shipping, as reported below in Maritime Global News, make it clear that yesterday’s announcement, condemned at the time by RMT as shot full of holes “does not make any change to legal entitlement for those working in UK waters.”
Steve Todd, RMT National Secretary said:
“It is now certain that the Government has capitulated to the intense lobbying of wealthy ship owners against the legal changes required to bring seafarers in line with land based workers’ entitlement to National Minimum Wage rates of pay. The Chamber of Shipping has always opposed enforcing the NMW for exploited foreign seafarers, some of whom are paid as little as £1.75 per hour. The employers made the same, uncosted arguments in the Legal Working Group on Seafarers and the NMW, on which the UK maritime unions and BEIS were also present.
“The BEIS announcement seems designed to scupper the Legal Working Group which had agreed in principle to recommend that the Government change the law to apply and enforce the NMW for seafarers on shipping routes on the UK Continental Shelf, including the offshore oil and gas sector. This is an act of sabotage which affects UK seafarers’ jobs and our economy.
“We cannot have an industry systematically undermining UK employment and anti-discrimination law as we prepare for Brexit. RMT will step up its campaign to expose the dirty secrets of the shipping industry which profits from discrimination against seafarers on grounds of nationality.”
General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“The Chamber of Shipping have confirmed today what we suspected, the Government’s new guidance is just an exercise in caving in to the powerful industry lobby and does nothing to tackle the scandal of the Ships of Shame in British waters. RMT’s SOS2020 campaign for seafarers’ justice goes on.”