Freight News, Sea

Ferry firms using pandemic as smokescreen, says union

[ April 29, 2020   //   ]

+Some ferry companies are using the Covid-19 pandemic to undermine national standards in the industry, including replacing existing crews with seafarers on international terms and conditions that are substantially lower than national conditions, warns the International Transport Workers Federation.

In the UK, it singles out Condor Ferries, Stena Line and P&O Ferries as having laid off seafarers or forced them to choose between taking unpaid leave or being furloughed. Companies are using the pandemic to undermine long existing collective bargaining agreements, adds ITF.

It said: “National Governments must play a necessary role in ensuring market downturns due to Covid-19 do not turn into unfair redundancies for seafarers or undercut current wages. Now more than ever, critical trade routes that deliver essential supplies should be crewed with national seafarers. To use this pandemic as an opportunity to further erode conditions on ferry routes is opportunism at its worst.”

Companies who receive government funds have an obligation to ensure jobs for national seafarers since those funds are taxpayers’ money, it argues. National governments must place conditions on employers who receive public funds that they must protect the wages of furloughed seafarers, including the preservation of existing and pre-existing terms and conditions of employment.