Three strikes and you’re out – Brittany Ferries welcomes French move to block low-wage ferries from ports
3 April 2023
A plan to block ferry companies from sailing to ports in France if they pay seafarers peanuts has been welcomed by Brittany Ferries. The company, which operates from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth says hard-working sailors deserve the protection of the law on both sides of the Channel, to prohibit harmful social dumping and support sailors’ working conditions.
The three-strikes-and-you’re-out penalty is part of a proposed French law, which received unanimous support in the Assemblée Nationale on 28 March 2023. The French Senate is the next step in the legislative process.
Action in France comes following the final step for The Seafarers Wages Act 2023 in the UK. This received royal assent on 23 March. Like the French proposal, the law mandates minimum wage requirements for ferries operating on the English Channel.
When implemented, French and British rules could work in parallel creating a de facto cross-Channel corridor for ferry workers and the companies that employ them.
“Lawmakers have taken a stand on both sides of the Channel to prevent the proliferation of the low-wage model on ferry routes and Brittany Ferries stands shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” said Christophe Mathieu CEO Brittany Ferries.
“There are those who say laws like these cannot be implemented on maritime routes, but that’s nonsense. Social dumping is the unacceptable face of capitalism at sea and we have a duty to legislate against it. Sustainability is not just a question of protecting the environment: a sustainable business model includes protection and support for the workforce.”
Brittany Ferries operates 12 ships on 14 routes. All vessels operate under the French flag and the company is proud to be the largest employer of seafarers in France. Wages and working conditions are class-leading in the ferry sector, including a one-week on, one-week off working model.
The Proposition de loi visant à lutter contre le dumping social sur le transmanche1 (proposed law targeting social dumping on the Channel) includes a provision that time worked should be equal to time off. The definition of maximum consecutive working period is still to be determined.
Chapter 4 of the proposed law is the section relating to penalties. It starts by outlining fines for the first two infractions, before moving onto strike-three.
« À la troisième infraction constatée, une interdiction d’accoster dans un port français est prononcée à l’encontre des navires appartenant à la compagnie maritime en infraction. Un décret en Conseil d’État précise la durée de l’interdiction. »
This says that on the third offence, French ports will be impose a ban on ships belonging to the offending company. A decree in the Council of State will specify duration of the ban.
1Copy of Proposition de loi visant à lutter contre le dumping social sur le transmanche is attached with this press release.