'Morale low' as Stena Line proposes pay freezes and longer working hours to cut costs

'Morale low' as Stena Line proposes pay freezes and longer working hours to cut costs

'Morale low' as Stena Line proposes pay freezes and longer working hours to cut costs

First published in News

FERRY operator Stena Line has written to its workers in Fishguard warning of pay freezes and longer working hours.

In a letter by the head of HR Mick Ambrose, obtained by the Western Telegraph, the company outlined its trading position.

Stena Line has not shown a profit in Europe since 2003, and in order to bring it back to profitability it needs to create an improvement in results of approximately £120 million.

This will be achieved through strategic achievement plans, some of which have been addressed during the past year, including the loss of 26 onshore jobs in Fishguard and Holyhead.

The letter said: “These changes have been significant. However, they alone will not be sufficient to meet our targets and we must continue the process and do more.”

One of the outlined resolutions is to change the way the company sources and supplies ferry labour. That would likely mean a move to a non-UK crewing model, with a mix of EU and non EU staff, which would allow the company to pay below the UK national minimum wage. Other measures include large scale redundancies.

Stena Line insists it wishes to resolve the situation in the Irish Sea by retaining local UK and Irish labour. This would mean a major overhaul of pay and conditions, including a pay freeze for 2014.

Additional options for discussion are increasing annual working time for all seafarers from 24 weeks to 26 weeks, introducing new lower graded positions, and new rates of pay for new employees.

The letter states: “Not making changes is not an option. The current structure of terms and conditions is not sustainable.

“The company has worked hard during 2013 to find an alternative to ‘foreign crew’ and, tough as it may be, believes the alternative is workable and achievable.”

A steward who works on Stena Europe at Fishguard, but who did not want to be named, said: “We have found in our experience that the possible resolutions WILL eventually happen.

“For 12 years the company has not left us alone. Every year we go for a pay review hear the word redundancies. It’s like a form of mental torture.

“Morale is low at the moment. If they said to us tomorrow here’s an x amount of money, we’d just take it and go. We’ve had enough.

“We actually care about what we do, we like to give good service, but with the amount of crew we’ve got at the moment we can’t do that.”

“Our ship is the oldest in the fleet at 34-years-old, and the excuse we can’t have a new one is that the company can’t afford one. But I’ve known for more than 10 years that traffic is being directed away from Fishguard and sent to Holyhead. Countless times lorry drivers have come up to me and said ‘you were very busy last week, we couldn’t get on,’ but that’s not the case, we were empty. It’s because they’ve spent an awful lot of money on Holyhead port and it has to show a profit.”

A spokesperson for Stena Line said that they hoped to be able to find the necessary cost reductions by working together with the trade union officials and representatives.

It also said that every employee has the right to vote and take part in industrial action, but warned that would weaken the company’s trading position.

Comments (6)

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10:24am Wed 29 Jan 14

malcolm calver says...

Having crossed the Irish Sea for many years, mainly on Irish Ferries, I would suggest that we need two operators on this route to keep down the cost of the service. The article seems to indicate that one suggestion as to keeping operating costs down would be to crew the ships with a mix of " EU and non EU staff, which would allow the company to pay below the UK national minimum wage". i would have thought that the company had a legal obligation to pay the minimum wage.
Having crossed the Irish Sea for many years, mainly on Irish Ferries, I would suggest that we need two operators on this route to keep down the cost of the service. The article seems to indicate that one suggestion as to keeping operating costs down would be to crew the ships with a mix of " EU and non EU staff, which would allow the company to pay below the UK national minimum wage". i would have thought that the company had a legal obligation to pay the minimum wage. malcolm calver
  • Score: 0

1:15pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Jiminy Thickitt says...

We are able to maintain service levels and they remain consistently high.
Most of us actually want to keep our jobs and don't want to be offered x amount of pounds to go.
These are very unhelpful comments by a fellow crew member who doesn't want to be named.
We are able to maintain service levels and they remain consistently high. Most of us actually want to keep our jobs and don't want to be offered x amount of pounds to go. These are very unhelpful comments by a fellow crew member who doesn't want to be named. Jiminy Thickitt
  • Score: -1

1:51pm Wed 29 Jan 14

daryl1957 says...

I worked on the Stena Felicity in the 90's....back then the crew were threatened and exploited.....same old same old.....
I worked on the Stena Felicity in the 90's....back then the crew were threatened and exploited.....same old same old..... daryl1957
  • Score: 1

6:21pm Wed 29 Jan 14

danthomas says...

"Pay freeze" - welcome to the real world. Most of us have been on one for over 4 years!!
"Pay freeze" - welcome to the real world. Most of us have been on one for over 4 years!! danthomas
  • Score: 2

6:28pm Wed 29 Jan 14

Jiminy Thickitt says...

To fair Stena Line has always been a socially responsible employer.
Businesses need to make a profit otherwise they'll cease to exist and the sad fact is most of the competition has flagged out so it doesn't have to use local labour. I'm just hoping the company and the unions can find a way forward that will preserve our jobs.
To fair Stena Line has always been a socially responsible employer. Businesses need to make a profit otherwise they'll cease to exist and the sad fact is most of the competition has flagged out so it doesn't have to use local labour. I'm just hoping the company and the unions can find a way forward that will preserve our jobs. Jiminy Thickitt
  • Score: 1

9:56pm Wed 29 Jan 14

teifion says...

Stena learning management tricks from BPJ?
Stena learning management tricks from BPJ? teifion
  • Score: 0

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