Law requiring minimum wage for seafarers progresses after P&O Ferries scandal

The firm came under fire after sacking nearly 800 members of staff without notice. Credit: PA

A move to ensure minimum wage for all seafarers has taken a step closer to becoming law following the P&O Ferries scandal.

The reforms aim to ensure workers on ships that regularly call at UK ports are paid the equivalent of the national minimum wage.

P&O Ferries was widely condemned after sacking nearly 800 staff members with immediate effect in March and replacing them with cheaper agency staff.

The firm admitted that it broke the law by not consulting trade unions before firing staff - causing former union boss and Labour peer Lord Woodley to brand them "law-breaking profiteers".

Now, a proposed law is being pushed through Parliament in an attempt to prevent a repeat of such "unacceptable behaviour".

Labour frontbencher Lord Tunnicliffe said: "P&O's behaviour shocked all sides of the House. Until that happened I suspect few of us understood just how badly seafarers are treated.

"It also reminds us just how badly some private companies will behave if not restrained by sensitive law and regulation."

He added that the Bill is a positive move in the right direction, but still "only the first step" in ensuring fair treatment for all workers.

Transport minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton told peers the legislation would cover the majority of ferry services, but warned against "overreach".

The law was proposed by the Lords and will head to the House of Commons for further consideration by MPs.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.