On June 12 the UK government agreed to extend the National Minimum Wage Act to cover the seafarers and offshore workers in the UK. The maritime contingent of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) celebrated the victory. The inclusion of seafarers and offshore workers in the Act was a long-standing demand of the union as reports have shown that the majority of the offshore workers in a number of oil and gas and offshore wind supply chain firms operating in the North Sea are gravely underpaid.
Kelly Tolhurst, parliamentary under-secretary of state for BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) announced that the government is planning to introduce the new legislation this September.
Energy Voice reported that “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”.
Regarding the proposal, RMT General Secretary, Mick 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”.
“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”, he added.
Alex Cunningham MP from the Labour Party had raised the issue of low pay of seafarers and offshore workers in the British parliament on June 11. He had urged the government to ensure a higher pay at least a par with the National Minimum Wage which is currently £8.21 minimum per hour for person more than 25 years of age.