Seafarers Wages Bill: government's response to P&O Ferries' jobs massacre lacks teeth
10 February 2023
The UK government is yet to close the legal loopholes that allowed P&O Ferries and its chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite to run roughshod over employment rights and led to the sacking of 786 seafarers last year.
P&O Ferries refused to consult workers through their trade unions and failed to notify the flag states of the vessels concerned in advance of the sackings.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'If government is serious about ensuring another P&O Ferries cannot happen again, more action needs to be taken.
'Whilst we are pleased to see the government pass primary legislation to ensure seafarers on vessels calling regularly at UK ports are paid at least the UK national minimum wage, this cannot be the sum-total of government action.
'In the immediate aftermath of P&O Ferries mass-sacking the government committed to a nine-point plan, including the creation of national minimum wage corridors between the UK and neighbouring countries. We are keen to see delivery on this commitment as it is central to tackling the race to the bottom that the actions of P&O Ferries and others have turbocharged.
'The government must close all the legal loopholes exposed by P&O Ferries' actions and ensure safe rostering patterns and crewing levels are included in a bi-lateral agreement with neighbouring countries. We look forward to continuing to work with government to ensure ambition will be met with action.'
On 7 February, the House of Commons passed the 'Seafarers Wages Bill' at the third reading, the bill is now expected to receive royal assent and become law.
The bill forms part of the government's response to the mass-sacking of 786 seafarers by P&O Ferries in March 2022, described as one of the darkest days in the country's recent maritime history. P&O Ferries summarily sacked almost their entire British seafaring crew and replaced them with agency workers recruited from abroad, some paid less than the UK minimum wage working tours of duty that Nautilus International believes are unsafe.
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