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RMT to demonstrate at the Port of Ramsgate over UK job guarantees in Seaborne Freight no-deal Brexit contract

Union members will call for guarantees the government will provide jobs for UK seafarers on a ferry route being set up in case of a no-deal Brexit.

The RMT's Dover shipping branch will hold a demonstration at the Port of Ramsgate at 11am on Tuesday, January 22 after the award of a £13.8 million contract to Seaborne Ferries to run crossings from the town to Ostend in Belgium.

The union previously protested at the Department of Transport's head office on Friday, January 11.

RMT protestors outside the Department for Transport's head office
RMT protestors outside the Department for Transport's head office

Seaborne Freight was awarded the contract by the government to run the new ferry route to ease pressures on freight traffic set to be created in a no-deal scenario.

The firm, which has never run a ferry service, was handed the £13.8 million government contract at the end of last year.

RMT Dover branch secretary Lee Davison said: "Neither Seaborne Freight or the Transport Secretary will give a commitment that there will be jobs for UK seafarers once the ferry service opens, which is unacceptable considering the 13.8 million pounds of taxpayers money it has been promised by the government.

"Should they use a low cost operator, undercutting the wages, it could have a serious detrimental effect on the other operators in this area and on the seafarers who currently work there.

"Brexit was supposed to be about taking back control, but Mr Grayling, who is a Brexiteer himself, hasn't guaranteed any jobs for UK seafarers after giving this contract to Seaborne."

The Port of Ramsgate
The Port of Ramsgate

Seaborne Freight is one of three companies that has been awarded the deal to run crossings between Ramsgate and Ostend by the Department for Transport, in what has been called "a situation of extreme urgency".

The contracts, worth £108 million in total, have been designed to boost ferry shippings in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and state that services must be operational by March 29.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has defended the decision to hand the contract to Seaborne Freight to provide extra ferry capacity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 earlier this month, Mr Grayling said: "I make no apologies for supporting a new British business.

"The reality is, it's a tightly drawn up contract that requires them to deliver, but I don't think there is anything wrong with government supporting small business."

"It's a new start up business. Government supporting new British business - there's nothing wrong with that."

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