Great Britain: a law to force ferry companies to pay the legal minimum wage

Through . Published on 30 March 2022 à 11h59 - Update on 30 March 2022 à 11h41

This decision on enforcing payment of the legal minimum wage at UK ports comes after P&O Ferries abruptly terminated the employment of 800 seafarers on 17 March. The massive restructuring operation by P&O Ferries, which used to employ 3,000, has attracted great interest and condemnation in the UK, not least since the jobs redundancies were announced via a pre-recorded Zoom video and without any prior notice given. The ferry company, which is owned by DP World, a port operator based in Dubai, argued that crippling costs justified the decision to lay-off staff in this manner as well as its intention to replace these workers by hiring a team of temporary seafarers who would be paid roughly £5.50 (€6.48) per hour, well below the current UK minimum wage of £8.91 (€10.50 for those aged over 23). The UK executive has roundly criticised P&O management’s attitude and summoned its Chief Executive Peter Hebblethwaite to a House of Commons hearing for explanation, and the UK Transport Secretary then urged the CEO to cancel the dismissals, something which he has so far refused to do. In order to ensure that such a situation cannot reoccur, on 28 March the government announced a legislative proposal that will require all ferry operators using UK ports to pay at least the legal minimum wage, which is set to rise to £9.50 per hour (€11.21) from 01 April, thereby closing a legal loophole that had allowed operators to ignore the UK minimum wage if their vessels were registered overseas. Measures which will “ensure that seafarers are protected against these types of actions,” promised Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps.

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