Amid the chaos at 10 Downing Street in the final days before the Parliamentary recess, the government laid down the first reading of the Seafarers' Wages Bill in the House of Lords. This has the express aim of expanding the National Minimum Wage to seafarers who are not currently covered.
While Nautilus supports any effort to harmonise the employment rights and protections of workers at sea with those onshore, the Bill in its current form would not produce the desired outcome.
The Bill as presented appears to relate to vessels docking at a specific port. This could lead to ferry operators 'port hopping' to avoid having to pay seafarers the minimum wage. As expected, the Bill also means port authorities would be responsible for ensuring operators pay their seafarers the minimum wage. Nautilus has been clear that port authorities are not the appropriate enforcement body, not least as some ferry operators also own and operate ports.
Despite good intentions from government, the legislation in its current form would not end exploitation of seafarers in UK waters. The Bill will continue its passage through Parliament, where Nautilus will be working with MPs/Lords across all parties to ensure that much-needed amendments are made.