Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael today managed to secure Government support to look into changing the law to prevent companies from paying their staff less than the minimum wage. The practice, which is common in the North Sea, sees people paid as little as £3.66 an hour according to the RMT on lines which are funded by the Scottish Government.
Speaking in the Chamber, Alistair Carmichael said:
“It cannot surely be right that the HMRC should deem a ferry service that starts in Aberdeen and finishes in Lerwick as being one which operates wholly outside UK territorial waters. It is nonsense for the body that is suppose to be enforcing minimum wage to be undermining it in this way. Will the Government do something to stop this?”
Agreeing to review the legislation the Minister of State for Transport the Rt. Hon. John Hayes MP said:
“I worked with the Honourable Gentleman in government and he knows of me what I know of him, that he does his homework. Here I have the legislation, the statutory instrument and original act in my hand as I speak. Let me tell him this. I am committed to review that legislation to ensure that it applies to the off shore sector.”
Commenting afterwards Mr. Carmichael said:
“I am pleased that at last the government seems to be taking the situation with seafarers pay and conditions seriously. I shall keep engaged with them to make sure that this “review” is followed with action. The seafarer’s case is just the tip of the iceberg, as recent STV investigations revealed the pay given to many seafarers is scandalously low. This works to the disadvantage of British Seafarers who are kept out of jobs because their wages are undercut.”