A group of marine professionals working for Condor have won a battle against the ferry company to get their union officially recognised.
The recognition of Nautilus International will apply for 45 employees working on vessels that operate predominantly from UK ports, namely: the Condor Liberation, Commodore Clipper and Commodore Goodwill.
It follows the ferry company cutting a number of jobs this year, with further cost cutting measures taken across the subsequent months as a result of the pandemic.
In a message to union members back in April, Nautilus Strategic Officer, Martyn Gray, said that “the actions of Condor Ferries in respect to the present pandemic are some of the most severe and draconian changes to Terms and Conditions of Employment that Nautilus International has witnessed in the Maritime Sector.”
The union had initially applied for recognition of their ‘bargaining unit’ - the collective of officers that the union would represent - back in early May, but Condor had rejected the application. The company cited various reasons for the rejection, such as the exclusion of the Condor Rapide from the agreement making management fragmented and untenable.
Pictured: The Condor Rapide not being included in the agreement was given as one of Condor's reasons for not accepting the recognition.
After reaching no agreement with Condor on the matter, Nautilus applied to the UK Government’s Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) - an independent UK Government body tasked with overseeing the regulation of UK labour law - in June.
One of the CAC’s findings was that Condor had tried to make an offer to a group of officers in July, but only on the condition that the officers write to the union to remove their wishes to be recognised.
In their correspondence with the CAC, the union said this had made them “concerned that the Employer might again seek to exert undue influence on its employees.”
The eventual CAC decision in September ruled that with a 77.11% majority of union members in the bargaining unit, and only 14.29% of those union members outwardly arguing otherwise, it could be granted statutory union recognition.
Pictured: Employees on board the Commodore Liberation are some of the 45 bargain unit members now with union recognition.
Of Nautilus' victory, Martyn Gray said: “We are now looking forward to building industrial relations at Condor and in further representing our maritime professionals.”
A Condor Ferries spokesperson said: “Condor accepts the ruling by the UK government’s Central Arbitration Committee, granting formal recognition of Nautilus International and will implement the terms of any agreement.
“Throughout this process and for many years, we maintain that we are a proud and responsible employer which adheres to and exceeds domestic and international employment regulations covering the wages, terms and conditions of staff. Assertions made by trade unions on the matter are unfortunately wrong and inappropriate.
“The pandemic continues to have a withering effect on Condor’s finances and operations with very little financial support received from governments in the four jurisdictions we serve. The company has had to be resized in order to protect its future which regrettably involved taking very difficult decisions on staffing earlier this year.”
Jersey's Chief Minister last month refused to confirm whether there had been talks about financially supporting Condor.
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