Offshore Wind Supply: Rates of Pay

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons on 11th June 2019.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

What steps he is taking to tackle rates of pay in the offshore wind supply chain that are below the national living wage.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

In the autumn the Government will introduce legislation to extend the right to receive the national minimum wage to seafarers operating in UK territorial seas. Any business, British or otherwise, benefiting from consumer subsidies and the growth of UK offshore wind has a clear moral responsibility to abide by the spirit of UK employment law, even where operations take them beyond the UK’s formal jurisdiction.

Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

I think that is the most helpful answer I have had in this place since I got elected nine years ago so I am grateful to the Minister for that, but why do we have to wait until the autumn when she could introduce secondary legislation now and close this loophole now?

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his supplementary question. This is a complicated process; I have been working with my counterparts in the Department for Transport and we are committed to delivering this legislation in the autumn. As I mentioned at previous questions sessions, we have also doubled our enforcement on the national minimum wage and are determined to make sure we are tackling all areas where people are not upholding the spirit of UK employment law.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Transport)

It is disgraceful that P&O Ferries is employing Lithuanian cooks sailing from Hull to Zeebrugge on the “Pride of York” at €2.04 an hour. Filipino able-bodied seafarers crewing the “Pride of Hull” are paid $4.45 an hour. Will the Minister meet me to see what we can do together to stop these predatory capitalist companies taking advantage of foreign crews? This amounts to slave labour.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising this point, and he is absolutely right: this is unacceptable, and I am more than happy to meet him to discuss it. But I just want to reiterate that the law is clear that any individual undertaking work in the UK is entitled to receive the national minimum wage; this includes workers in different sectors, which is why we are taking this action, and we will be laying legislation in the autumn.