RMT union protest against Condor’s ‘exploitation’ of crew

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The RMT union says it hopes the action – the latest in a series of demonstrations against the operator – will encourage Condor’s new owners to improve the contracts offered to its non-EU staff.

It claims that the Ukrainian seafarers working on the Condor fleet for two-month periods are still being paid below the national minimum wage for a 12-hour working day and a seven-day week living on the ship.

The scheduled action comes just weeks after it was announced that a deal had been agreed to sell Condor to a consortium made up of global asset management group Columbia Threadneedle Investments and cross-Channel ferry operator Brittany Ferries.

Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: ‘The Condor protest in Portsmouth is part of RMT’s SOS 2020 campaign, which highlights exploitation of workers in the shipping industry.

‘RMT will be calling on Condor’s new owners to make a fresh start with this lifeline service and work with UK and French maritime unions and the Channel Island governments to deliver a new contract that increases and improves jobs and services across Condor’s operations.’

A Condor Ferries spokesman said the firm was a ‘proud and responsible employer’ and branded the union’s comments ‘inaccurate’.

‘We stand by our many previous comments on the matter – Condor fully adheres to and, indeed, exceeds domestic and international employment regulations covering the wages, terms and conditions of staff and this includes compliance with the Maritime Labour Convention 2006,’ the spokesman said.

‘A very small number of non-EU seafarers are employed through a specialist recruitment agency and many return to us year after year, citing the positive work experience.

‘These qualified and experienced seafarers are hard-working, valued members of our team and their welfare is no less important than that of all our UK, EU and international employees.

‘We are a responsible and prudent operator and the assertions made are unfortunately wrong and inappropriate. Condor has provided lifeline services to the Channel Islands for over 70 years so works closely with the authorities in Guernsey and Jersey to provide the best sea connectivity across our freight, Islander and tourism offerings,’ he added.

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