Tory Ferries minimum wage plans fall short

The TUC union federation has denounced the lack of a mechanism to enforce new minimum wages in the ferry industry.

The TUC said on Thursday that Tory government plans will be “unworkable” unless enforcement powers are strengthened.

The TUC pointed out that only the Maritime and Coastguard Agency has the legal right to board ships for inspection to address safety concerns and implement seafarers’ rights. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) inspectors, who are responsible for making sure workers are paid the minimum wage, do not have the legal right to board vessels for enforcement.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said, “A lack of enforcement will kick the legs out from under the government’s minimum wage plans. Our weak enforcement regime lets rogue employers like P&O ride roughshod over fundamental workers’ rights. Britain is in the midst of a crisis of enforcement that goes well beyond the maritime industry.

“Ministers must properly fund and empower enforcement bodies so they can recruit and train additional qualified inspectors and inspect more workplaces. That’s how you stop bad bosses from getting away with flagrant labour rights abuses.”

And the Tories let them do it. There are reports that the long-awaited Employment Bill will not be included in next month’s queen’s speech. O’Grady goes on, “If ministers fail to deliver the Employment Bill again, they will be toadying up to bad bosses.”

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity commented:

“Of course, trade unionists must organise to ensure their legal rights are respected and increased. That is not enough, however. The P&O struggle shows that we must go beyond that and be prepared for more militant and confrontational action against bad bosses. Nor can the trade union struggle be separated from a political dimension. Just as the bosses rely on a near monopoly of political and economic power our challenge must come from both sides.”

“P&O must continue to be punished by a boycott for their anti-worker policies – don’t go P&O. This should go on indefinitely to send a message to bosses that if they mistreat their workers there will be a price to pay.”

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