RMT protest in Portsmouth Friday over Channel Islands scandal

Communication, HR, Labour Disputes, Manning - Seafarers and Offshore, Ro-Ro and Passenger Ferries — By on March 12, 2018 at 2:57 PM

Mick Cash


Maritime union RMT will be holding a protest this Friday 16th March, from 1330 hrs at Portsmouth International Port, George Byng Way, Portsmouth PO2 8SP

The protest will be calling for an end to Condor Ferries paying poverty wages on their ships. Condor is contracted by the Jersey and Guernsey governments to operate lifeline ferry services between Portsmouth and Poole and the Channel Islands.

Ukrainian Seafarers working on a 3-month contract with Condor Ferries have been paid £2.46 per hour for a 12-hour working day.*

RMT’s SOS 2020 campaign is calling out companies’ profiting from the exploitation of seafarers, which includes Condor Ferries’ owners, the Australian bank Macquarie who extract a management fee under the current contract with the Governments of Jersey and Guernsey.

RMT calls on politicians and the public in Jersey, Guernsey and the UK to support our demands for:

• A Living Wage employer (£9.75 p.h.), as a minimum on lifeline Channel Island ferry services.**
• Recognition for 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 new contract.

RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:

“UK and Channel Island seafarers cannot and should not have to compete with pay rates as low as £2.46 per hour.

“With wages like that it is no wonder that between 1980 and 2016 the number of UK Ratings fell by over 60%. There are 87,000 ratings jobs on ferries and other merchant vessels working from UK ports, with a vast majority paid below the UK National Minimum Wage. RMT is fighting to change this.”

RMT National Secretary, Steve Todd commented:

“In addition to the disgraceful 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 people and businesses of the Channel Islands.”


RMT’s SOS 2020 demonstration against Condor Ferries will take place on Friday 16th March, assembling 1330 at Portsmouth International Port, George Byng Way, Portsmouth PO2 8SP. 

Early Day Motion 1039 was tabled last week by MPs to highlight Condor Ferries’ record of undermining seafarer pay and employment. https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/1039

Condor Ferries continue to exploit foreign seafarers, on rates of pay well below National Minimum Wage rates in the UK, Jersey and Guernsey. The Condor fleet is registered under a Flag of Convenience (Bahamas), yet up to date information on seafarer wage scales has not been released for over three years, despite the company’s repeated claims to be fully compliant with UK, Channel Island and international laws.

According to contracts of employment confidentially supplied to RMT in 2014, Ukrainian Ratings working on Portsmouth to Jersey and Guernsey routes were being paid £2.46 per hour.

Correspondence between the union and Condor in September 2017 revealed that Condor continue to employ ‘international crew’ who live on the vessels for the length of their temporary contracts, so the company can avoid UK and Jersey employment law in order to maximise returns to the owner, Macquarie.

Condor’s contracts with the Governments of Jersey and Guernsey are coming up for renewal and the RMT demonstration will send a clear message to politicians that this exploitative and unpopular operator must be sent packing, with the next operator required in contract to recognise the RMT for collective bargaining purposes and, at the very least, to be a Living Wage employer. The Living Wage on Jersey is currently set at £9.75 per hour and will come into force for Jersey’s public sector workers, including sub-contractors on 1st June this year.

* According to 2014 contract of employment.
** On 21 Feb 2018, the Sates of Jersey’s voted (42 to 1) to become a Living Wage (£9.75p.h.) employer, including sub-contractors from 1 June 2018.
The passenger survey quoted can be found at http://www.islandfm.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SurveyReport.pdf

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