Maritime News

Rig workers in the UK paid less than the minimum wage

17 February 2012

Oil rig in the North Sea*
Photo: Erik Christensen, GFDL*

The ITF’s offshore task force group will call on the UK government to look into the suspected exploitation of Romanian rig workers in the UK port of Hartlepool.

It is understood that the 48 workers, contracted by a Romanian company Grup Servicii Petroliere (GSP) to work on its offshore rig GSP Britannia, berthed in Hartlepool, are complaining that they have not been paid since October 2011. An ITF inspection revealed that many workers appear to have been paid half the UK minimum wage – receiving only £3.50 (US$5) per hour for a 12-hour day, seven days a week. The crew do not have employment contracts.

One hundred other GSP company employees in Romania are also seeking assistance from the ITF office in Constanta, Romania, for non-payment of wages. However, the ITF in Romania is finding it difficult to support many of their claims because they have no contracts or wage accounts, and there are reports that the company and the “yellow” (employer-run) union threaten the workers if they seek ITF assistance.

ITF offshore task force group chair Norrie McVicar has been working to negotiate a settlement with the company. He has contacted the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for advice about the status of the rig and now plans to approach the UK government’s Low Pay Unit and the Health and Safety Executive to look into the matter.

The owners of the offshore rig GSP Romania have been contacted in the UK and Romania.

McVicar said: “This is social dumping at its worst. We call upon all right-minded people and trade unions in the region to get behind the campaign to stamp this exploitation out.”

The workers’ plight was unveiled during a joint ITF trade union week of action in the North Sea offshore industry, launched in Aberdeen, Scotland, on 7 February.

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