End ‘shameful’ right of shipowners to discriminate, urges RMT
RMT: March 13 2007
THE GAPING legal loophole that allows UK shipowners to discriminate against foreign national seafarers must be plugged, maritime union RMT says today.
As Shipping Minister Stephen Ladyman announced a consultation on the future of the notorious Section 9 of the 1976 Race Relations Act, which allows shipowners to pay foreign nationals lower rates of pay, RMT called for the exemption to be scrapped.
Mr Ladyman is this afternoon scheduled to address RMT's parliamentary seminar on the shipping industry, alongside RMT general secretary Bob Crow, Chamber of Shipping Director General Mark Brownrigg, TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady and RMT group parliamentary convenor John McDonnell (see note below).
"In the 21st century it is grotesque that legislation aimed at ending discrimination should still contain clauses that allow it," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
"The government has already amended Section 9 once, in 2003, when it banned discrimination on grounds of race, colour or ethnic origin, but continued to allow it on grounds of nationality.
"That change made no difference to the discrimination that has ensured the continued super-exploitation of overseas ratings and hastened the decline in the number of UK ratings employed in the maritime industry.
"The government has now set out three alternatives: doing nothing, banning discrimination against EU nationals only, or banning it altogether.
"RMT believes that only the full repeal of Section 9 will help to end once and for all a practice that brings shame on Britain's maritime industry," Bob Crow said
Note to editors: RMT's parliamentary briefing on the maritime industry begins today in Committee Room 12 at the House of Commons at 14:00. Other speakers include Nautilus UK Deputy General Secretary, Peter McEwen, Dover MP Gwyn Prosser and RMT national secretary Steve Todd.
Department for Transport: 13 March 2007
Seafarers - changes to Race Relations Act
Shipping Minister Stephen Ladyman today launched a consultation on proposed changes to the Race Relations Act aimed at ensuring that it complies with EU law relating to the freedom of movement of workers.
Section 9 of the Act contains an exception for seafarers who are recruited abroad. This means that they can be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality in relation to pay. This exception needs to be changed.
Dr Ladyman said:
"Changing the Act is a positive step for European seafarers and those from other states with agreements with the EU.
The purpose of the consultation is to assess the impact that changing the Act would have on seafarers and on the industry. Wage patterns may change and there is a risk that shipowners will flag out of the UK. We must ensure that the potential negative impacts of the changes are minimised."
The consultation will close on 14 September 2007.
Note for Editors
The text of the consultation can be seen at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/"