Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for Ynys Môn Rhun ap Iorwerth AM will be writing to Stena to seek assurances over workers’ rights and that jobs will be protected for his constituents in light of the arrival of the new Stena vessel, Estrid, into Holyhead Port recently.
Concerns have been raised with the AM that the new vessel was changed from Welsh to Cypriot registration – supposedly driven by a desire to see the vessel remain EU-registered – with members of the ship’s crew fearing that the change could undermine workers’ rights in the longer term and affect Stena’s longstanding policy of recruiting seafarers locally.
Mr ap Iorwerth said that he is pleased that Welsh Government has been able to support Stena Line with a number of investments in Holyhead, but appealed to them to ensure that in providing support, they are able also to influence important local employers like Stena too.
The Plaid Cymru AM said:
“I asked if Government was aware of Stena’s decision to re-flag its brand new Holyhead-to-Dublin ferry, Estrid. It’s great to see investment in that beautiful new ship, but I am worried by the fact that during a delivery from China recently, she was changed from Welsh to Cypriot registration. There’s a suggestion that it’s driven by a desire to remain EU-registered.
“I have met members of the ship’s crew, who, as a result, no longer pay UK national insurance contributions directly, and are worried about the implications of that. They also have longer term worries that re-flagging under a flag of convenience could be a slippery slope towards undermining workers’ rights and undermining Stena’s current policy, which is vital on Ynys Môn, of crewing locally rather than internationally.
“So, as well as providing a statement I have asked that Government write to Stena, as I am doing, to seek assurances that workers’ rights and jobs will be protected, and in doing so, that Welsh Government uses its influence as a part-funder of various Stena projects.”
Welsh Government Minister Rebecca Evans responded:
“I had a recent meeting with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers to discuss exactly this issue, although it wasn’t particularly in the context of Stena Line; it was more in the context of what we can do to support Welsh seafarers who work in all kinds of parts of the seafaring industry.
“The concerns that were raised there were that when companies do take advantage of various opportunities that are there for them legally, then it does mean that some Welsh workers can be out-priced and that workers from elsewhere in the world can actually find themselves not paid as well as they should be and find themselves with poor employment rights as well.
“Some of the concerns that you have described I very much recognise, and I’d be happy to ask the Minister for transport to provide an update on Welsh Government’s approach to that, and some reflections on the opportunities that might be to change the law, although it would, I think, have to be done at a UK basis.”