Monday, February 17, 2014

Maritime Labour Convention Seemingly Fails to Protect Domestic British RoRo Ferries

Unions Accuse Channel Isles Shipping Group of 'Massive Scandal' over Wages
Shipping News Feature

UK – The RMT union, which regularly uses the most colourful language to criticise anything its executives deem unfair, is to hold its latest demonstration in a long running campaign against what it terms a ‘social dumping scandal’ affecting RoRo ferries employed in British waters. The protest, supported by both RMT and the International Transport  Workers Federation (ITF), will take place at 16.00 on Tuesday 18th February at Portsmouth Commercial Freight Gate, Prospect Road, Portsmouth.

The RMT campaign to expose what it calls the ‘massive scandal’ on Condor Ferries is specifically over the 'social dumping' of cheap, non-EU labour which it says makes a complete mockery of both UK and EU employment rights. According to the union, Condor Ferries are able to avoid rules and regulations that are supposed to stop exploitation and as a result pay their seagoing staff £2.35 per hour, well below the UK minimum wage, whilst operating its ferry service between Portsmouth and the Channel Islands.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow, never a man to use a measured adjective when an excitable rant will do, accused the European Union of refusing to act against the ‘political elite’ whose ‘wealthy mates’ he believes run the British shipping industry. Condor Ferries is owned by the Macquarie European Infrastructure Fund II which lists French autoroutes, Thames Water and NCP in its portfolio.

In 2012 changes to UK VAT regulations reduced trade funnelled through the Channel Isles which resulted in the loss of around 180 jobs at sister company Condor Logistics. One would imagine that, with the formal adoption of the Maritime Labour Convention, abuses of seafaring staff by way of wages apparently equating to less than half the mandatory UK minimum wage would be proscribed by law, not according to what the RMT tells us however.