NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

UK government review vow over Northern Isles ferry pay wrangle


The UK government has vowed to review legislation designed to protect minimum wages amid a wrangle over pay on Northern Isles cargo boats.

The freight vessels Hellier and Hildasay are operated by Seatruck, which is contracted to run the service by Serco Northlink.

The RMT union said some workers were being paid less than £4 an hour.

Transport Minister John Hayes told Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael the law would be reviewed.

Mr Carmichael had described the current situation for a service operating between Aberdeen and the Northern Isles as "nonsense".

Mr Hayes said: "I am committed to review that legislation to ensure that it applies to the offshore sector."

'Taking situation seriously'

Mr Carmichael said the intervention of the minister was a positive sign.

He said afterwards: "I am pleased that at last the government seems to be taking the situation with seafarers pay and conditions seriously.

"I shall keep engaged with them to make sure that this review is followed with action."

Seatruck has previously said the national minimum wage was not applicable to the crew, many of whom are non-UK residents.

Northlink has said it has repeatedly offered to bridge the pay gap and backdate it.

A union protest was held in Aberdeen earlier this month.

Serco Northlink was awarded the six-year £243m Northern Isles contract in 2012.

It operates three ferries and two cargo boats to the Northern Isles.

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