19 May 2017

Union Picks European Maritime Day to Target Pay Inequality in Merchant and RoRo Ferry Ships  

RMT Campaign Argues for Equality of Employment Practices for All Seafarers

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Shipping News Feature UK – Whilst most are flocking to Dorset this week to celebrate at the various events being held during the Poole Maritime Festival and the Poole Harbour Boat Show the town has also been hosting various events related to European Maritime Day (18 – 19 May) as described in our previous article. The RMT Union has used this event to draw attention to its ongoing SOS2020 campaign to improve the pay and working conditions for seafarers employed at what it perceives as below minimum acceptable standards, and a local RoRo freight and passenger carrier was a convenient target.

The protestors gathered outside the Poole Lighthouse Arts and Conference Centre to voice concerns and express their outrage at what they see as unjust practices which undermine jobs and collectively bargained rates of pay across the UK and Europe. The union argues the point that jobs and wages are unfairly distributed and weighted against domestic crews.

The RMT claims that with over half a million seafarers working in European waters, 56% are non-EU nationals on what it terms ‘poverty pay’. It goes on to insist that only 10% of the 87,000 Ratings jobs in the UK shipping industry are held by UK nationals and the handful of Britons in training can never make up for the estimated 3,000 ratings who will retire by 2020. RMT National Secretary Steve Todd said:

“As part of our SOS2020 campaign RMT is demanding jobs, training and the end of the race to the bottom on pay and working conditions. Our objective is simple, a guaranteed future for the UK shipping industry based on the development of a skilled and expanded domestic workforce that will secure the economy of areas like Poole well into the future."

From Poole the RMT mentioned the name of local RoRo outfit Condor Ferries as an example of low cost crewing, but the company tell us that in a discussion with the ferry group management at the time of the protest, Steve Todd made it clear that Condor was not the specific focus of this European wide campaign.

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