Stena Line's Irish Sea cost cutting a "race to the bottom," says MP


Geraint Jones

A FERRY operator’s proposed cuts to pay and conditions could lead to a “race to the bottom,” Anglesey’s man in Westminster warned.

Albert Owen, a former seafarer, raised concerns about Stena Line’s proposals to cut pay and conditions for staff on its Irish Sea routes.

He said: “Stena want to cut the time off given to its seafaring staff, freeze pay and significantly reduce the wages of new employees to minimum levels.”

“There are real concerns that less time off for seafaring staff to recuperate leads to greater risks to safety at sea; other companies have done this only to re-instate extra paid time-off"

“This is ‘a race to the bottom’, which is bad for morale and Irish Sea port communities in general.”

Mr Owen said that Stena’s proposal to freeze wages for existing employees and cut rates for new entrants would see money out of the area.

He added: “These crude, one size fits all proposals, do not take into account the fact that Holyhead is a prime port location and a big earner for the company."

A Stena Line spokesman said the company’s European ferry business had operated at a loss in recent years, and needed to compete with low cost operators.

He added Stena Line had restructured its management, administration and port operational shore-based teams.  

The spokesman said: “The company has been and will continue to be in discussions with trade unions and staff representatives designed to help secure the continuing employment of its current Irish Sea seafarers and not as has been speculated to become involved in ‘mass downsizing’.

“Stena Line has identified some initial measures which will lay the foundation for the discussions, which includes a decision not to increase salaries for all staff in 2014 and the transfer of the technical management of its Irish Sea vessels to an internal Stena Group company, Northern Marine Ferries Ltd.

“As a basis for ongoing discussion the company has put forward a number of options giving potential cost savings from the range of current terms and conditions.” 


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