The UK Government has revealed new protections for workers in the maritime industry under its new Seafarers Charter, created in partnership with France as part of an agreement to protect those working in the English Channel. 

The charter will see employers required to provide a specific rate of overtime pay, a full and indefinite contract with benefits and adequate rest periods considering issues such as fatigue and mental health. 

Maritime Minister Baroness Vere announced the charter during a visit to Paris with her French counterpart, Secretary of State for the Sea, Hervè Berville, as a sign of the two countries’ collaboration on the issue following the UK-France summit earlier this year. 

Baroness Vere said: “Today, in Paris, alongside Minister Berville, we strengthen our commitment to protect those working in the Channel and we’ll continue collaborating with our international partners on this vital issue.” 

“Fair pay and protection against unlawful discrimination are the basic rights of any employee. Our seafarers deserve nothing less,” she added. 

A joint statement from Baroness Vere and Berville added that similar initiatives were key to attracting and retaining talent in the “vital industry”. 

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The charter continues the Government’s nine-point plan for seafarers in response to the mass lay-offs enacted by P&O Ferries in 2022, which were condemned by the UK Government. 

Earlier this year the Government’s Seafarers’ Wages Act was signed into law as part of the plan, ensuring that vessel operators must pay seafarers a minimum wage equivalent and giving powers to authorities to charge those who don’t as well as refusing harbour access. 

As part of a collaboration with the maritime industry, the charter is backed by DFDS Ferries, Condor Ferries, Brittany Ferries and Stena. 

Brittany CEO Christophe Mathieu said: “We never forget the importance of seafarers and are proud to be part of the fight to protect their rights, on both sides of the Channel.” 

Adding: “When it comes to seafarers’ wages and working conditions, we believe that all ferry companies should aim for the highest bar and not participate in a race to the bottom.” 

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has been keen on collaboration between the Department for Transport and the maritime industry since setting up the UK’s new Maritime Council, which saw its inaugural meeting last month, with the aim of carrying out the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy.