Northern Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the Government to clamp down on loopholes in employment law which allow ship owners to pay less than the minimum wage and which are leading to job losses amongst British merchant seafarers.
Mr Carmichael was commenting after it was disclosed that the North Sea Supply Vessel, Malaviya Seven, has been detained for the second time since June as a result of its owners not paying their crew. Many of the crew members aboard the ship are already understood to have been paid less than the minimum wage due to loopholes in employment law which exempt foreign sea workers from the jurisdiction of UK employment law, including the need to pay the minimum wage.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“It is unacceptable in this day and age that any employee should be subject to this sort of treatment, particularly in a demanding line of work. This case demonstrates basic contempt for the wellbeing of sailors from companies such as GOL Offshore. The Government must recognise the need to give better protection to people working in the North Sea in support of the oil and gas industry.
"It gives me no satisfaction to say this but it is exactly the situation that I put to the Chair and Chief Executive of the Industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, when they gave evidence to the Energy Select Committee earlier in the year. It is all very well the industry saying that they will protect employment and other standards while reducing costs but they cannot be blind to what is being done by the shipping companies that they engage.
“I am tabling a motion in parliament to bring some attention this situation. It calls on GOL Offshore, the owners of the ship in question, to come to immediate settlement over staff wages, stresses that no crew member should be paid less than the minimum wage and urges swift Government action to protect workers’ rights in the future. This appears to be one of the worst examples of the practice but I am certain that it is not the only one."
EDM text (this will not be formally tabled until Monday 10 October)
Crew of the Malaviya Seven and GOL Offshore
That this House notes with concern that supply vessel Malaviya Seven has been detained by the Maritime Coastguard Agency for the second time since June for non-payment of wages to its crew; notes that many of the crew on the Malaviya Seven are paid less than UK minimum wage; calls on GOL Offshore, owners of the Malaviya Seven, to settle immediately all outstanding crew wages and to demonstrate that no crew member is paid less than the minimum wage and calls on Her Majesty's Government to take action to close the loopholes allowing this abuse of employment law to continue and to take all necessary action to protect the position of seafarers working in support of the UK oil and gas industry.
Mr Carmichael’s constituents began a campaign in March to support British seafarers who have been made redundant by British based companies. The petition has gathered over 4,500 signature on the government website: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/123806
Mr Carmichael also tabled an Early Day Motion on this petition which has cross-party support: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2015-16/1282