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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2012

End seafarers' poverty wages

Nick Pollard

Banners and flags were caught in the early Saturday morning breeze at Portsmouth Ferry Port on 18 August. The chant was "low pay, no way" in the second protest outside the port.

One of the chief reasons for the protest was to end poverty pay in the maritime industry and achieve union rates of pay for all. Condor Ferries use EU directive 'Mode 4' to recruit Ukrainian workers and exploit a loophole in UK legislation to pay them as little as 2.35 an hour.

On 17 August a similar protest was held at Southampton docks to campaign against Condor but also against the cruise liner operators who pay their crews as little as 75p per hour.

Among the speakers at the event in Portsmouth were Steve Hedley, newly elected assistant general secretary of the RMT and Mick Tosh, RMT rep and Portsmouth trades council president.

Darren Procter, branch secretary of the RMT's Southampton Shipping branch highlighted the importance of these protests and explained the need to continue to build support here and in the Ukraine.

The campaign has already picked up support from Ireland. Back in 2005, Irish Ferries workers went on strike to defend conditions and pay and were widely supported by the local communities and wider trade union movement.

Paul Murphy Socialist Party MEP said in a message: "I salute your campaign to prevent Condor Ferries exploiting Eastern European workers. This is part of a wider attack on working people across Europe to drive down wages and working conditions."

We demand trade union rates of pay for all and will campaign to stop companies exploiting immigration loopholes.

For a publicly owned shipping industry under workers' control and management.

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