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France institutes new minimum wage law to protect ferry crew

20 March 2024

On Tuesday 19 March, the French government signed a decree bringing into effect legislation that forces cross-channel ferry operators to pay the French minimum wage of at least £9.95 per hour.

It has been instituted in response to the actions of P&O Ferries two years ago, when the company replaced hundreds of seafarers with contract workers paid well under French and UK minimum wage.

The law also states that crew must not work for more than two weeks at a time without a day off.

Operators will have a three-month grace period to bring their practices into line with the new requirements. After this, any found in violation will face a fine of £76,000 a day, to be split between UK and French authorities.

French maritime union CFDT – an affiliate union of the Nautilus Federation – was present for the signing of the decree.

Thierry Le Guével, general secretary of Union Federale Maritime, part of CFDT, said: 'The next challenges will be making the tools of the state available for enforcement of the law, and payment of paid leave. The UFM CFDT will bring an amendment to this effect before elected officials.'