Union claims victory as offshore workforce protected by new wage legislation

Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg
Photographer: Ali Mohammadi/Bloomberg

Offshore workers and seafarers are to be protected by new pay legislation passed by the UK Government, according to a maritime union.

The new wage policy will ensure that all workers and seafarers working on offshore oil and gas installation and wind projects will receive the National Minimum Wage.

RMT, union who led a charge on the issue, described the news as a “major victory”.

The workers union said that the new legislation will pay the National Minimum Wage to all workers operating in UK waters “regardless of the flag or the vessel” they work on.

The changes to the National Minimum Wage Act will be introduced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in September.

RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, called the move “a breakthrough”.

The news comes after a number of oil and gas and offshore wind supply chain firms operating in the North Sea were accused of “virtual slave labour” by union bosses.

Last month, one ship management firm contracted for the Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm project agreed to retrospectively increase worker pay after it received accusations of low pay.

Mr Cash said: “This is a major and welcome victory for RMT’s long-running campaign for pay and workplace justice in the maritime sector and I pay tribute to both the RMT members and our supporters who have fought long and hard to secure this breakthrough.

“This is a long overdue reform and we’re grateful to Alex Cunningham MP for putting the BEIS Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, on the spot this morning.

“By the end of the year, seafarers working on ships between UK ports or servicing offshore oil and gas or wind installations, regardless of the flag of the vessel, will be protected by the National Minimum Wage.

“This will extend the basic protections from pay exploitation that have been applied and enforced for land based workers for 20 years.

“This increased protection for thousands of seafarers is welcome and the RMT’s ongoing campaign to eradicate nationality pay discrimination and all forms of seafarer exploitation goes on.”

Kelly Tolhurst, parliamentary under-secretary of state for BEIS, said in Parliament today: “In the autumn the government will introduce legislation to extend the right to receive the national minimum wage to seafarers operating in UK territorial seas.

“Any business, British or otherwise, benefiting from consumer subsidies and the growth of UK offshore wind has a clear moral responsibility to abide by the spirit of UK employment law, even where operations take them beyond the UK’s formal jurisdiction.”

Breaking