UK promotes global debate on minimum wage for seafarers

The UK government has moved to initiate a global discussion on seafarer minimum pay in the wake of the sacking of 800 staff working for P&O Ferries earlier this month, a workforce that has subsequently been replaced by a team being paid as little as $3 an hour.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed yesterday he will bring forward new legislation to ban ferries which don’t pay their workers the national minimum wage from docking at British ports.

The British government has called on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to hold an international summit to discuss workers’ rights at sea and to revise the status quo on seafarers’ basic pay rates around the world.

The transport secretary has also written to France, the Netherlands, Ireland and Denmark to propose bilateral agreements which would ensure routes between the countries become so-called minimum wage corridors, where nationals from either country must be paid an agreed minimum wage.

Shapps said: “We can boast some of the highest maritime standards in the world, but for too long some employers have managed to avoid showing workers the most basic respect. Ensuring a fair wage for our seafarers means UK workers are not undercut by employers, and it reiterates the UK flag as one of the most respected in the world. P&O’s behaviour has appalled the nation and I want to make it absolutely clear we will not tolerate their actions or allow anyone else to follow suit – and this package of measures will act as a strong deterrent.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


    1. Why? Location is rather important What is the minimum wage in Bangladesh? $0.09. PRC – $0.94. Georgia – $0.05. Philippines – $1.3.

  1. It appears this a blatant attempt by Shapps / Al de Pf et al trying to deflect attention away from the fact that the only reason the UK is in the current situation with P&O is Brexit. How many non Brits did P&O sack? None.
    Are the replacement crews on less than minimum wages? No.well above it. So this is a diversion, something Al de Pf is infamous for doing.
    The unions don’t want to state this as they were pro-Leave to escape the EU’s regulations. The very regulations that prevent this sort of scam.

    1. Totally agree! UK govt is powerless and so is IMO to control China amongst others and their wages … a bunch of ferries in the UK is zero in terms of world shipping! I’d like to see the day when a COSCO ship is stopped in Europe for wage abuse …

      An hourly rate is so misleading … this is a smokescreen for the shambles of P&O…

      1. I think you totally missed the point. It isn’r about minimum wages it is about Brexit being a disaster and Al de Pf doing his usual misinformation.
        “this is a smokescreen for the shambles” of UK gov.
        Also, why should shipowners based elsewhere pay the same wages as those in the UK? As I posted above “What is the minimum wage in Bangladesh? $0.09. PRC – $0.94. Georgia – $0.05. Philippines – $1.3.”
        Further, many COSCO vessels are not PRC owned, they are chartered. Also, many COSCO owned vessels are not flagged in the PRC the are flagged in Bahamas for example, and therefore wages must meet Bahamian requirements.
        Seems you haven’t heard of Seaspan either, which charters quite a few ships to COSCO.
        Then we have the COSCO FELIXSTOWE, which is UK flagged.
        I could go on, but I think you get the drift of reality.

  2. He needs to look at the studies about treatment of UK seafarers and wages. Calling for international minimum wage is fine. And at what level? For all groups of seafarers, all sub-sectors of the industry? I did a bit of research that makes this seems a bit hypocritical. The RMT has been fighting for fair treatment of UK seafarers and more so in UK waters. Issues of even getting its own seafarers employed in UK waters because they have all sorts of legal loopholes to allow the hiring of cheaper crew and the poor union trying to bring attention to this to no avail. (place rolling of eyes here).

    1. Indeed, but anyone believing Al de Pf and the Trolls care about seafarers is woefully naive. One should also notice that it was only UK staff who were sacked and not EU and the RMT voted to leave the EU to escape its regulations! They got what they voted for, didn’t they. Anti-union Brexiteers.
      “The RMT has been fighting for fair treatment of UK seafarers ” Hmmm. So why did it vote to leave the EU where they were already protected?
      “the poor union trying to bring attention to this to no avail.” See previous. They were warned but preferred to believe Farage, the ERG and BoJo. When one sups with the devil ……
      The only alternative would be something like the Jones Act, if one wants to further increase the cost of living.
      Most of the time the problem isn’t that UK seafarers are too expensive but that management is incompetent.

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