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Seafarers: National Minimum Wage

Volume 635: debated on Tuesday 30 January 2018

4. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the work of the legal working group on seafarers and the national minimum wage. (903614)

The Government believe that seafarers should be paid fairly for the work that they do. My Department and the Department for Transport worked with trade unions and employers to publish new guidance that explains the responsibilities of employers to pay the national minimum wage. We are crystal clear that if someone works in UK waters, they are entitled to at least the minimum wage and that all employers—no matter where they are from—must pay it.

I am pleased to hear that, but is the Minister aware that UK seafarers are being undercut by rates of pay as low as £1.75 an hour? That is happening even though the legal working group on seafarers and the national minimum wage, which includes his Department, agrees that legislative change is needed to provide more protection. Will the Minister give a commitment to work with the RMT and Nautilus to end this brazen exploitation, starting with the application and enforcement of the national minimum wage for seafarers working between UK ports and offshore installations?

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the guidance is clear that the national minimum wage applies on foreign registered ships when they are in UK territory. The new guidance is the first of its kind on the application of the national minimum wage specifically to seafarers, which shows that this is a priority for the Government. UK national minimum wage law must naturally have a limit, but if a person is employed as a seafarer in British waters, they will be entitled to the national minimum wage.