P&O refutes claims it is paying some workers ‘less than £4 an hour’

P&O Ferries has refuted a report saying that it is paying some of its agency crews a basic rate of less than £4 an hour.

ITV News said it has seen contracts for several freelance workers hired to replace the 786 seafarers dismissed by P&O Ferries on March 17.

One contract for a P&O Ferries worker in Dover shows a basic wage of $860 a month (£683) for a 40-hour working week. This works out at an hourly rate of pay of £3.94, said ITV.

The 17-week contract requires the crew member to work 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

When additional rates for overtime, leave and a subsistence allowance are included, the crew member’s rate of pay rises to £5.10 an hour, based on an 84-hour working week, said the broadcaster.

In a statement, P&O Ferries said: “It is misleading to assert that any agency seafarer is paid £3.94 an hour. Everyone working on the ship is contractually entitled to receive a basic salary plus guaranteed overtime, a leave allowance, a subsistence allowance and a bonus.

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“Taken together, the minimum rate of hourly pay is the equivalent of £5.58 an hour and nobody working on board our ships is paid less.

“It is important to note that the rates paid to our agency seafarers are above the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) minimum standards.

“We fully welcome the government’s commitment to increasing the minimum wage for all seafarers working in British waters and have called for a level playing field when it comes to pay and conditions on British ferry routes.”

Commenting on ITV News’ report, Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said on Twitter: “These are sweatshop conditions.”

The national minimum wage in the UK is £9.50 an hour.

Appearing before the transport select committee on Wednesday, transport minister Grant Shapps said that P&O Ferries must pay its workers the minimum wage.

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