P&O Ferries accused of 'slavery' over crew wages

P&O - stock picture Image copyright P&O
Image caption P&O said its crewing practices were in line with other shipping companies operating in UK waters

A ferry company has been accused of "slavery" over the wages it pays some crew members.

Karl Turner, Labour MP for Hull East told the House of Commons P&O Ferries pay as little as £1.83 an hour to some Polish and Portuguese crews.

He asked for a parliamentary debate "on this really important issue, because I think it is slavery".

P&O said it voluntarily "complied fully with International Transport Federation agreements" on its North Sea ships.

The company's ferries sail from the port of Hull to Rotterdam, Holland, and Zeebrugge, Belguim.

It runs various routes from other ports.

Mel Stride MP, leader of the house, said he would take the issue further as it was an appropriate topic for debate and appeared to be "a deeply unsatisfactory situation".

Mr Turner told the Commons: "In the very city that William Wilberforce led the fight against slavery, P&O Ferries are employing Portuguese and Polish crews on £1.83 an hour."

A P&O Ferries spokesman added: "We are one of the largest single employers of UK seafarers and also have many agency colleagues from other countries working for us. The majority have no interaction with the British economy as they live on board on an 'all found' basis during their tour of duty.

"They tend to be long-serving, some having been with us for many years, and are employed at fair rates of pay when compared to wage levels in their home countries.

"Return flights to their home countries are included in their contracts, as required by the Maritime Labour Convention, and they benefit from food and accommodation free of charge."

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