UK ports will be required to check whether seafarers are paid minimum wage, the government announced today.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the Commons’ Transport Select Committee the new legislation will not required ports to “physically enforce” new minimum wage requirements when they are introduced.
“What we will require them to do is ask for confirmation and clarification – in the same way as they ask, for example, that the relevant insurance has been paid – that the relevant pay was being made,” he said.
Shapps explained that, while it will fall on the Department for Transport and Maritime and Coastguard Agency to enforce the rules, ports will still need to check “to ensure [a ship is] within the law.”
The new legislation comes as part of the government’s crackdown on P&O after the ferry operator sacked 800 seafarers last month and replaced them with cheaper agency workers.
Agency workers are paid £5.50 per hour, half than the UK minimum wage of £9.50, but according to P&O wages are in line with international maritime law.
“To get out of this mess,” Shapps added, P&O will need to repay the £11m of furlough money it used during the pandemic while chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite will have to step down.
Calls for Hebblethwaite to resign came as P&O restarted today its Channel services amid safety concerns after a company ship lost power off the coast of Northern Ireland, City A.M. reported.