P&O Ferries has denied claims it attempted to push through a pay cut by asking recently-appointed agency workers to sign new contracts.
According to reports, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) was approached by seafarers on the Spirit of Britain ferry who claimed they had been asked to sign new contracts with reduced pay.
In March P&O Ferries made 800 crew redundant and replaced them with agency staff employed overseas. The Insolvency Service has launched criminal and civil investigations into the sackings, while a former chef is pursuing an unfair dismissal and discrimination claim.
However, it has since been reported that workers claimed had been forced to work without contracts after their old ones had expired. The BBC said that some workers had been engaged on one- or two-month contracts and were told to agree to lower rates of pay if they wanted to stay on.
A worker on the ferry at Dover told the RMT: “They don’t care about our rights. They try to give us less money. We are desperate”. The worker claimed they had been working without a contract for six days.
The RMT told the BBC that that P&O was “desperate to keep these new crew on board because they’ve been on board for four weeks now and these crews were beginning to have familiarity with the vessels”.
According to the Mirror, chefs paid £2,336 a month on temporary contracts were asked to agree to a pay cut of £195. Some crew earn just £748 a month for a 40-hour week.
The RMT contacted the Maritime and Coastguard Agency,which reportedly forced P&O Ferries to issue workers with amended contracts and to reinstate their original wages. However, P&O Ferries told the BBC that “no agency seafarers were asked to accept reduced wages” and that there were “no plans to change or reduce the wages” of new staff.
A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: “The complaint made by the RMT union about seafarers’ welfare and employment contracts was fully investigated as part of the reinspection of Spirit of Britain and upheld.”
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