Union organises protest in Portsmouth today to shame ferry companies exploiting foreign seafarers


RMT members are today protesting on the south coast to raise awareness of the impact on shipping jobs of social dumping and the exploitation of overseas workers by the shipping companies.

They will be joined by members of other unions in Portsmouth city centre at 3pm , then move to the port area to leaflet and demonstrate at the freight and passenger terminals while a cruise vessel is in port and a Condor ferry docks.

The union has repeatedly warned the government’s so-called ‘light touch’ regulations in the Equality Act leave seafarers vulnerable to exploitation on grounds of nationality and increases the scandalous practice of social dumping with government connivance. The issue of exploitation on our ships was brought into graphic detail by the recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme targeted on Celebrity Cruises which reinforced everything that RMT has been saying.

Despite new legislation, trumpeted by the European Union, it has proved to be totally ineffective and massive scope remains for the shipping industry in the UK to continue paying lower wages to seafarers from non-EU countries, and to continue recruiting crew members on that basis. RMT will not stand idly by whilst companies continue to profit from paying seafarers poverty wages like the £2.35 an hour paid by Condor to Ukrainian ratings working on ferries to the Channel Islands and France.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “The modern day slavery on our ships of shame is now starting to grab media attention and it is clear that RMT’s campaigning is pushing the issue up the agenda. The super-exploitation of foreign nationals in the British shipping industry is a massive scandal that the political elite want to keep quiet. That’s no surprise as it’s their wealthy mates running the shipping companies who benefit from this scam that dodges normal employment regulations while the European Union turns a blind eye.

“Social dumping is a mechanism seized on by some of the most rotten employers in the book to dry and batter down wages and conditions. RMT members and their supporters have the full support of the union for this weeks’ protest which is just the latest phase in our campaign.”

RMT national secretary Steve Todd said: “If the cruise and shipping companies thought that they could get away with their systematic exploitation behind a veil of secrecy then RMT has proved that they were wrong. The fight to stop the scandal of social dumping remains a national priority for RMT and we will continue to step up the campaign to turn the spotlight on the shameful practices that this ConDem government continues to legitimise in the British shipping industry.”


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