Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Protests held over plans to cut Steam Packet sailings

Protest in Douglas
Image caption Staff protested in Douglas and Liverpool

Staff from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have protested at plans to cut ferry services to and from Douglas.

The firm announced a review of its schedules after the recent launch of a rival freight service operated by Ramsey-based Mezeron.

Mezeron's service between Douglas and Liverpool is a direct competitor for the Steam Packet, which runs services to Liverpool, Heysham and Birkenhead.

Hundreds of staff protested in Liverpool and Douglas on Tuesday.

The unions claim more than 300 Steam Packet jobs are at risk following the launch of the new service.

Rock-bottom wages

RMT general secretary Bob Crow was on the island for talks about the issue with the Isle of Man government.

Mr Crow said: "RMT is not opposed to competition but it must be on a level playing field and that is clearly not the case, as Mezeron's Kurkse and Kalana pay rock-bottom wages and conditions to overseas seafarers and undermine long-standing, negotiated arrangements with the Steam Packet company."

A spokesman from Mezeron said: "Mezeron employs local people who live and work here on the Isle of Man. We specialise in freight and our service complements that of the Steam Packet, much as the Easy Jet air service complements the Steam Packet passenger service."

In Tynwald last week Chief Minister Tony Brown confirmed the Isle of Man government had no plans to buy the Steam Packet Company.

He continued: "A user agreement does not mean that a company does not have to deal with competition in the marketplace."

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