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Seafarers protest at Ramsgate over lack of assurances from government

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SEAFARERS protested at Ramsgate port today as a ferry company announced it is to switch registration of its cross-Channel fleet to tax haven Cyprus when Britain leaves the European Union.

Seafarers’ union RMT is calling for action to ensure that ferry services are operated by British crews after Brexit.

There are concerns that operators will switch flags and recruit overseas seafarers who can be exploited with low pay and poor working conditions after Brexit.

The union said fears are growing of “a stitch-up that will open the door to exploitation of foreign nationals at the expense of British seafarers.”

RMT is demanding that ferries are crewed by British ratings, unions are recognised, and that operators comply with British employment laws.

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “This is pure opportunism from P&O, whose long-term aim has always been to switch the British fleet to a tax haven register, as they have already done with most of the Irish Sea and North Sea fleet.

“We demand an immediate assurance from P&O that the pay and terms and conditions of over 730 RMT members in Dover are not under threat from this move. We would also expect the maritime minister to see this move for what it is — rank opportunism from a company owned in Dubai.

“If P&O think they can use Brexit as a smokescreen for introducing the low-cost crewing model on the vital Dover-Calais route then they have got another think coming.”

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