In Focus: Lifeboat falls off ‘low wage’ P&O ferry

P&O ferry coming into port.

Maritime union RMT has written to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), after it was reported that a lifeboat had fallen off the new P&O vessel P&O Pioneer using low-paid agency crew.

RMT says all crew working on P&O Ferries are low-paid agency crew, predominantly recruited overseas by Maltese crewing agent IFM. IFM was set up to supply agency labour to P&O Ferries before the unlawful dismissal of nearly 800 directly employed UK ratings and officers last March.

Accidents involving lifeboats are one of the most common causes of injuries and fatalities among seafarers in the shipping industry.

According to RMT, an Indian able seaman (AB) on the Pride of Canterbury is contracted by IFM to work 17 weeks straight, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for a basic hourly rate of £3.94.

The Chinese-built Pioneer is due for delivery on the Dover-Calais route to replace the Pride of Canterbury and this crewing model will be used on the new vessel.

“Nothing could demonstrate P&O Ferries’ contempt for maritime safety standards more spectacularly, especially when you take into account the knackering 17-week contracts low-paid agency crew are working on P&O’s fleet, including those registered under the Cypriot flag of convenience,” says RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.

“The irony is that this government signed an agreement with the Cypriot register in February, with the specific aim of enhancing maritime safety.

“We are in contact with the MCA and our comrades in the French trade unions to ensure that P&O Ferries cannot sail their new ship without a functional set of life-saving appliances on board,” he adds.

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