Home Associations Government package of measures welcomed but they don’t go far enough

Government package of measures welcomed but they don’t go far enough

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The Secretary of State for Transport has today laid out the initial government response to the disgraceful decision by P&O Ferries to dismiss 800 seafarers without notice or consultation.

The government’s ‘package of measures’ – nine proposals in all – have been focussed on the extension of the national minimum wage to all seafarers onboard ferries that enter UK ports. Nautilus welcomes these proposals, indeed, we have been calling for this for many years. However, intervention on the national minimum wage intervention alone will not stop P&O Ferries nor will it disincentivise and companies like them from sacking their workers.

Yesterday, Nautilus alongside the RMT, met with government and shared our joint ‘Fair Ferries Strategy’. The decision by P&O Ferries, and their flagrant breach of UK law, sets a dangerous precedent for employers in the UK. This joint strategy, if adopted, would ensure the outrageous actions by P&O Ferries can never be repeated again.

The Fair Ferries strategy would require legislation for an industry wide ‘fair ferries national framework collective bargaining agreement’ with a certification approval process to enforced by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. This would ensure all ferry operators in the UK are required to work with UK social partners and apply as a minimum the agreed framework.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: ‘On any other day this would feel like a victory for our long running campaign for pay fairness in the UK ferry sector both domestically and internationally. But today, when we had high hopes for legislative measures to tackle P&O Ferries’ illegal actions, it falls someway short.

‘P&O Ferries are already extolling that extending the UK National Minimum Wage to international ferry routes will not cause them to change direction and that their cheap labour agency-based crewing strategy will remain intact. The company has achieved its objective and our members, and the safety of passengers and freight will be the casualty.

‘We broadly welcome all the measures in the package announced today, and the proposal for NMW corridors with neighbouring countries is encouraging. We urge the Secretary of State to prioritise the achievement of this proposal and to ensure the NMW is enforced in the ferry sector with the support of the countries of destination.

‘We also welcome action against the company’s chief executive Peter Hebbelthwaite – it is clear he is not a fit and proper person but we had also hoped for action against other members of the P&O Ferries board of directors and for details of how the government plans to ensure that fire and rehire is outlawed, how the government can injunct a company, and levy unlimited fines, when they transgress UK employment law.’

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