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Displaying items by tag: P&O dispute

Seafarers numbering in tens of thousands must be paid an equivalent to the UK National Minimum Wage in a major step forward on pay protection, confirmed the British Government today (10 May).

Following P&O Ferries’ decision to sack 800 workers, the Government is introducing pay protection reforms requiring ferry operators who regularly call at UK ports to pay their workers the equivalent of the UK National Minimum Wage.

The new legislation will ban ferries that don’t pay their workers the equivalent to minimum wage from docking at UK ports.

  • Ferries regularly sailing in and out of UK ports to pay an equivalent to UK National Minimum Wage
  • UK leads global agenda to secure Minimum Wage Corridors with key European countries  
  • Second phase of Transport Secretary’s nine-point plan on seafarer pay protection begins

Announced in the Queen’s Speech, the Government will implement the changes in the next parliamentary session and will consult closely with the ports and maritime sector on the new laws.

In addition to The Harbours (Seafarers' Remuneration) Bill on securing an equivalent to UK National Minimum Wage for seafarers regularly entering UK ports, the Government is continuing positive bilateral discussions with France, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Ireland and Denmark. This is to ensure routes between the countries become ‘Minimum Wage Corridors’, where seafarers on routes between either country must be paid at least the equivalent of the minimum wage.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “We will stop at nothing to make sure seafarers in UK ports are being paid fairly. P&O Ferries’ disgraceful actions do not represent the principles of our world-leading maritime sector, and changing the law on seafarer pay protection is a clear signal to everyone that we will not tolerate economic abuse of workers.   

 “We will protect all seafarers regularly sailing in and out of UK ports and ensure they are not priced out of a job. Ferry operators which regularly call at UK ports will face consequences if they do not pay their workers fairly.”  

The consultation on the proposed measures (through the Dept of Transport) opened today (10 May) and will last four weeks. It will examine what sort of vessels could be included beyond ferries, and what the enforcement measures will be. Options under consideration include surcharges, suspension of port access and fines.

Business minister Paul Scully said: “In contrast to P&O Ferries, who have shown utter contempt for their workforce, this government is firmly committed to ensuring that a fair day’s work gets a fair day’s pay.

“By ensuring that seafarers working on ships which regularly call at UK ports are paid an equivalent to the minimum wage, today’s plans will be a boost for thousands of hard-working staff, while shielding them from any future exploitative actions by rogue businesses.”

The new laws means that all ferry operators who regularly call at UK ports will be legally obliged to pay an equivalent to the UK National Minimum Wage in order to access those ports, closing a legal loophole between UK and International Maritime Law that P&O Ferries ruthlessly exploited.   

In pursuit of a fairer deal for seafarers, this year the Government will hold an international summit on seafarers’ rights  to improve conditions for seafarers’ around the world.   

Published in Ferry

Operator P&O Ferries said today it was unable to meet the UK government's request to rehire around 800 workers it fired earlier this month without notice in favour of cheaper staff, saying doing so would lead it to face financial collapse.

The UK government has urged P&O to reconsider its action and has said it will force ferry operators docking in its ports to pay the minimum wage.

"The circumstances which led P&O Ferries to make the decision in the first place still apply," P&O Ferries Chief Executive Peter Hebblethwaite said in a letter to Transport Minister Grant Shapps.

More from RTE News here on the continuing ferry dispute that began almost three weeks ago. 

Published in Ferry
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Operator Stena Line which has a ferry route on the North Channel, has said it will put on extra services between Northern Ireland and Scotland from Tuesday, reports the Belfast Telegraph. 

The UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed the news in the House of Commons (see related story), stating the company had “stepped up” after P&O routes were suspended last week and that it would ease pressure on major supermarkets like Asda and Marks & Spencer.

There was widespread outrage last week after P&O made the sudden announcement that 800 crew workers had lost their jobs without warning.

It’s understood up to 50 workers from Northern Ireland alone are affected.

The BBC report that Mr Shapps confirmed that if it is found P&O flouted employment law by failing to give adequate notice or consultation then it would be “a matter for criminal prosecution and unlimited fines”.

Northern Ireland’s Economy Minister has also accused P&O of “ripping up the employment rule book”.

P&O has said the company was forced to take immediate action to safeguard the future viability of the business and that affected staff would be receiving enhanced redundancy packages.

Further coverage from the newspaper here.

Published in Stena Line

Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!