UK Parliament Member draws attention to OSV sector problems

  • Business & Finance

Following reports this week that an offshore support vessel has been detained in the UK over ‘slave-like conditions’ for Indian workers aboard, Chair of the RMT union’s Parliamentary Group, parliament member Ian Mearns has tabled Early Day Motion 231 titled “Non-payment of national living wage and seafarer Employment on Offshore Supply Vessels.”  

Ian Mearns is a British Labour Party politician who is the Member of Parliament (MP) for Gateshead.

According to the RMT union, the EDM 231 was filed this week to highlight the Government’s failure to prevent job losses amongst UK seafarers on offshore supply vessels (OSVs) or the replacement of UK crew on OSVs with low-cost seafarers on “scandalous” rates of pay as low as £2 per hour – some 70% below the value of the National Living Wage of £7.20p.h.

To remind the Aberdeen port authority detained GOL Offshore-owned MV Malaviya Seven offshore supply vessel on Wednesday morning, in what the shipping union RMT says is a “blatant example of modern day slavery.”

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, according to UK Parliament info, very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions. The EDM 231 was signed by 3 MPs.


Below is an unaltered version of the EDM 231:


“…That this House is concerned by ongoing job losses, alleged visa abuses and low pay in the offshore supply vessel (OSV) sector which services the UK oil and gas industry in the North Sea; notes that the downturn in oil prices since August 2014 has led to over 1,000 job losses amongst UK seafarers on OSVs, in many cases being replaced by non-EEA seafarers on rates of pay as low as £2 per hour; is further concerned that seafarer ratings replaced by low-cost foreign crews in the OSV sector will be lost to the maritime industry; believes that this practice puts UK seafarers and the national economy at an unfair disadvantage, particularly in the event of an increase in oil prices; further notes that the number of UK owned OSVs fell by 10 per cent in the year to 31 December 2015; is concerned that a record number of OSVs are currently laid up in UK ports, in some cases with non-EEA crew living on board in contravention of transit visa requirements and the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC); and calls on the Government to enforce visa and employment law and the MLC in the OSV sector as a matter of urgency.


Union praises MPs move


RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said “We’ve lost over 1,000 seafarer jobs in the OSV sector, mainly through the flouting of employment, equality, and visa law. Record numbers of OSVs are laid up in Aberdeen and other east coast ports, in some cases with non-EEA crew retained on board, in contravention of domestic and international law, let alone high-minded concepts such as Corporate Social Responsibility.

“These practices should be a source of shame to the oil and gas industry which hides behind the low oil price to justify this shocking exploitation of foreign seafarers which borders on modern slavery.”

National Secretary for the RMT, Steve Todd added that as the MCA’s detention of a ship in Aberdeen demonstrate, current practices in the OSV sector “are a direct threat to UK seafarers’ continued employment in the industry”

He said that these practices are dumping “thousands on the dole and making a mockery of the Government’s industry-driven mantra of Maximising Economic Recovery of oil and gas from the North Sea. “

“MPs are to be congratulated for highlighting this scandal and the Shipping Minister cannot continue to walk on by as thousands of UK seafarers lose their jobs as a direct result of his Government’s failure to get a grip on an industry that is jeopardising jobs, skills and revenue from our oil and gas reserves,” Todd said


Offshore Energy Today Staff

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