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In pics: Union protests Rosyth freight ferry operator over ‘poverty pay’

RMT members hold a demonstration outside the office of Douglas Chapman MP in Dunfermline, Fife (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
RMT members hold a demonstration outside the office of Douglas Chapman MP in Dunfermline, Fife (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

A UNION is calling for action to be taken against a freight ferry operator that gives “poverty pay” to staff.

The RMT claims the DFDS Seaways Finlandia vessel, which operates between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium, has rates of pay as low as £1.64 for Lithuanian seafarers employed on the ship.

Neil Galbraith takes part in a demonstration held by RMT members (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Neil Galbraith takes part in a demonstration held by RMT members (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

The crew are being “exploited” and local traders in Rosyth are also being excluded from any potential work on the ferry because of the low pay, the union said.

The Scottish Government said it is committed to seeing the National Minimum Wage paid on ferry services it operates but that international commercial ferry services and staffing matters are reserved to Westminster.

Protesters has protested about the case outside the office of Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman.

RMT organiser Gordon Martin said: “Local politicians are saying nothing about this. It’s simply not good enough.”

The protest highlights what the union describes as poverty pay rates on Scotland's only roll-on roll-off freight link to Europe. (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
The protest highlights what the union describes as poverty pay rates on Scotland’s only roll-on roll-off freight link to Europe. (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)

The RMT said the Scottish Government has given grants of £356,000 to support the route while the EU will have invested £5.42 million in it by 2017.

The union’s general secretary Mick Cash said: “RMT wants to see the Scottish Government support a thriving Scottish port and shipping sector but not at any price.

“The Scottish Transport Minister has already taken welcome steps to end exploitative practices by Seatruck on vessels working the Aberdeen to Orkney and Shetland routes.

“RMT now call on the Scottish Government to take action to tackle all ports of shame in Scotland – starting with Rosyth.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have supported the Rosyth-Zebrugge service with funding to help ensure Scotland realises all of the benefits for our economy and our domestic freight industry, and we want to see that continue.

“While we have no locus in international commercial ferry services and their related staffing matters and policy on National Minimum Wage is reserved to Westminster, we are committed to seeing the National Minimum Wage applied on Scottish Government run ferry services, most recently securing a national minimum wage deal on Northern Isles routes.”

Brian Reynolds (left) and Gordon Martin take part in a demonstration held by RMT members . The Lithuanian-registered Finlandia Seaways, DFDS freight service operating between Rosyth in Fife and Zeebrugge in Belgium, employed Lithuanian seafarers on rates of pay as low as £1.64 per hour in 2015, according to the RMT. (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)
Brian Reynolds (left) and Gordon Martin take part in a demonstration held by RMT members . The Lithuanian-registered Finlandia Seaways, DFDS freight service operating between Rosyth in Fife and Zeebrugge in Belgium, employed Lithuanian seafarers on rates of pay as low as £1.64 per hour in 2015, according to the RMT. (Jane Barlow/PA Wire)