Legislation that will oblige all ferry companies operating from UK ports to pay the national minimum wage will be introduced in the House of Commons this week.
Ministers hope that by closing a gap in the law that allows companies to pay employees who work on vessels registered abroad below the UK minimum rate, they can force the disgraced P&O Ferries to reinstate the 800 workers it has dismissed in favour of agency staff who are paid £5.50 per hour on average.
It is expected that the government will begin the process of changing the law on Wednesday or Thursday this week, the BBC has reported.
However, the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union has stated that that the sacked employees should be reinstated on the contracts of employment they had before their dismissal, and that it would not accept the national minimum wage for its members.
P&O Ferries scandal
National secretary Darren Proctor told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ferry operators paying below minimum wage had “contributed to the decimation of UK seafarers” and higher wages would create more opportunities for UK workers.
However, he said that customers would have to pay more “if you want decent terms and conditions [for workers]”.
From Thursday (1 April 2022) new national minimum wage and national living wage rates will apply. The national living wage, for workers aged 23 and over, will increase by 6.6% to £9.50 (currently £8.91).