Maritime union RMT, has lambasted the government ahead of the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increase, pointing out thousands of seafarers will not be eligible for the rise.
From April 1, the national minimum wage will rise by 9.7 percent from £9.50 to £10.42 for all over 23 year olds.
However, despite the Seafarers Wages Act being passed, it will not come into full force until next year, meaning P&O Ferries and other operators will be under no legal obligation pay the new NMW rate.
Due to legal loopholes, some agency crews being employed by P&O, Irish Ferries Seatruck, Condor Ferries, Cobelfret and others are being paid as little as £4 an hour in British waters on routes which call at UK ports up to five times a day.
Other seafarers who will miss out include some of those working in offshore wind and the green energy supply chain.
The Seafarers Wages Act and the National Minimum Wage (Offshore Employment) Order 2020 do not apply to seafarers working on vessels servicing offshore wind/renewable installations out to the 200-mile limit of the UK Exclusive Economic Zone.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said:
“The modest rise in the National Minimum wage is below the rate of inflation and does not even apply to thousands of low paid seafarers working regularly from UK ports for anti-trade union operators.
The government makes a lot of noise about improving the lot of seafarers in response to the P&O Ferries scandal but the reality for seafarers is a race to the bottom through super exploitation of their terms and conditions where RMT does not have recognition with the employer.
Ministers are refusing to tighten legal loopholes which permit this rampant exploitation and this refusal to protect decent jobs and skills is accelerating a decline in pay and working conditions for seafarer Ratings.
RMT will continue to campaign for decent treatment of seafarers through mandatory fair pay agreements with the maritime unions, which is the only way to rein in the P&Os of the maritime world.”