Friday, November 9, 2018

Freight and Passenger RoRo Lifeline Ferry Dispute Continues Unabated

Pay Demands at Government Approved Levels Spark Protests Again
Shipping News Feature
UK – It seems the ongoing row between unions and Guernsey headquartered Condor Ferries continues unabated. Condor runs RoRo ferry services for both freight and passengers which link, on behalf of their respective governments, the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey to the mainland UK ports of Portsmouth and Poole. With apparently little progress in negotiations more protest meetings in Portsmouth are being scheduled by the RMT maritime union stretching into next year.

At the heart of the matter is the accusation that the ferry group avoids paying the normal rate to which seamen in British waters are entitled to. In March there were similar demonstrations at which time the RMT stated that some Ukrainian staff manning Condor ships were receiving as little as £2.46 per hour. In February the States of Jersey voted to become a Living Wage (£9.75 per hour) employer from 1 June 2018 but the RMT says Condor have effected no such change.

Such discontent seemingly goes way back, with Condor allegedly issuing a statement in 2015 urging the public to ‘refrain from intimidation’ after members of staff apparently posted on social media that their complaints were not being addressed. The next protest meetings are scheduled for Saturday 22 December 2018 and Saturday 12 January 2019.

The protests will take place under the banner of RMT’s SOS 2020 campaign which is calling out companies profiting from the exploitation of seafarers, including Condor Ferries owners, the Australian bank Macquarie which the union says extracts a management fee under the current contract with the Governments of Jersey and Guernsey. The RMT is calling on trade unionists, politicians and the public in Jersey, Guernsey and the UK to support these protests in pursuit of the union’s demands for:

  • A Living Wage employer (£9.75 p.h.), as a minimum on lifeline Channel Island ferry services
  • Recognition for the RMT to collectively bargain for seafarer Ratings
  • Register all UK-Channel Island ferries in the Red Ensign Group
  • Binding targets for Seafarer apprentices over the life of the next contract
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash called for a review of the services involved by the authorities, saying:

“UK and Channel Island seafarers cannot and should not have to compete with poverty pay rates on these ships of shame. Scandalously low pay in the shipping industry has driven a fall in UK Ratings of over 60% since the 1980s. Yet there are 87,000 ratings jobs in the UK shipping industry, with demand forecast to grow in the coming years. RMT is fighting to enable domestic seafarers to compete for these jobs by enforcing Minimum Wage legislation and ending nationality based pay discrimination.

“In addition to disgracefully low wages, 81% of Channel Islanders in 2016 were dissatisfied with Condor Ferries, the result of rising fares, safety incidents, service cancellations, delayed freight supplies and exploitative employment practices. This is no way to run a lifeline ferry service for the public, Government and businesses of the Channel Islands, and we look forward to debating these matters with them.”