Union protests against ship staff ‘exploitation’

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UNION members held a protest targeting Condor Ferries over what it calls the ‘exploitation’ of foreign workers on board ships.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union joined the International Transport Federation yesterday for a rally outside Portsmouth’s commercial freight gate.

DEMO The protest against Condor Ferries at the dockyard

DEMO The protest against Condor Ferries at the dockyard

They say Condor Ferries is involved in social dumping – paying low wages to Ukrainian crews instead of bringing on board British seafarers.

Condor Ferries, however, says its Ukrainian crew members are happy with their pay and conditions, and it complies with international maritime law.

The protest in Portsmouth comes shortly after French Condor workers went on strike in a row over pay and conditions.

Mark Carden, from RMT, said: ‘We’re here to show support to the French seafarers in St Malo because they want local conditions with decent state of pay.

‘The second is to ask Condor Ferries if they agree with social dumping.

‘Seafarers from Portsmouth can’t compete with £2.35 an hour, which is what Condor pay their Ukrainian crew.’

In a statement, Condor Ferries said the protest was an ‘opportunistic attempt to distort the situation for political reasons’.

The firm pointed towards a promotional video which shows Ukranian workers discussing their conditions in glowing terms.

James Fulford, the chief executive of Condor Ferries, said in a statement: ‘Condor Ferries is confident that the crew members from Ukraine who work on board our conventional freight ferries are happy with their terms and conditions of employment which include a comprehensive suite of air travel, free medical, accommodation and food benefits and that these terms exceed all required international standards.

‘This protest is completely unrelated to the dispute in France of our French fast ferry crew and is to some extent spurious as the crew members the protest relates to are not represented by RMT.

‘Indeed they are already represented by their chosen union and have told us many times they are happy with their terms and conditions of employment.’