Unions condemn Stena Lina as ferry firm suspends sick pay

Unions have condemned ferry company Stena Line for axing workers’ sick pay in response to the growing coronavirus Covid-19 crisis.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: “Stena’s cynical decision to suspend normal sick pay rules means workers with coronavirus will only get £94.25 a week, rather than the normal full pay.

“Our union believes that the company is breaching its legal obligation to manage the risks posed by the serious pandemic. Stena’s action will greatly increase the risk of infected staff presenting themselves for work when they are faced with staying home on a pittance or going to work for full pay in order to pay bills. That will inevitably result in them spreading the illness to their colleagues and Stena’s passengers.”

The ferry company announced this week that they were suspending their normal “generous” sick pay rules which entitles workers to full pay when they are off.

Cortes further condemned Stena for failing to consult with trade unions over Covid-19, saying: “At the first sign of having to pay higher wage costs than normal, Stena have pulled the rug out from under their staff.

“Faced with this unprecedented crisis most employers across the transport and travel sectors are working with their trade unions for the common good and we welcome this. Stena however are clearly not prepared to work with the staff and their trade unions to tackle the considerable challenges of Covid-19.

“This is no time for employers to be engaging in bully boy tactics, forcing sick staff to work regardless of the health and safety of their passengers or staff.

“We call on the Department for Transport, the Scottish Transport Secretary, and the First Minister in Northern Ireland to intervene to ensure sick pay at Stena is restored at once, to help combat the public health and economic crisis that we all face now as a result of Coronavirus.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “With no attempt to discuss this with trade unions, Stena Line has launched an outrageous attack on seafarers’ right to a decent sick pay scheme which will mean Stena Line employees in the UK will only be entitled to the statutory minimum of £94.25 per week, even if they are diagnosed with Coronavirus.

“Rather than wait for a response from trade unions and industry’s call for direct financial support from the government to pay salaries and meet additional costs incurred by the coronavirus, including sick pay, Stena are extending the aggressive approach taken in Scandinavia to the UK.

“We are seeking urgent talks with the company and the government to find a more constructive approach than this which threatens to throw our seafarers on the scrap heap.”

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