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Commission seeks end to pay discrimination of non-UK seafarers
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The European Commission has requested the United Kingdom put an end to discriminatory legislation which allows for differential pay of non-UK seafarers linked to their nationality. The Commission considers the legislation to be in breach of the obligation to treat EU migrant workers in the same way as national workers in employment-related aspects.

The request takes the form of a 'reasoned opinion' under EU infringement procedures and in the absence of a satisfactory response within two months the Commission may decide to refer the UK to the EU's Court of Justice.


    The Race Relations Act explicitly allows for direct and indirect pay discrimination on the basis of nationality of non-UK seafarers hired abroad to work on UK ships, or working on UK ships outside the UK. These provisions continue to apply to non-UK seafarers because even though the Equality Act that recently became applicable prohibits pay discrimination, the UK government has not yet adopted the further provisions that are necessary to extend this prohibition of pay discrimination to seafarers and work on ships.

    The Commission considers that the UK infringes EU law on free movement of workers and similar provisions in a number of agreements with non-EU countries that prohibit such discrimination (Article 45 TFEU and Article 7 of the Regulation No 1612/68 on freedom of movement for workers within the Community and similar provisions in 13 agreements that the EU has concluded with non-EU countries.  All prohibit discrimination on the basis of nationality in employment-related aspects including pay.)  See also: IP/10/82

    Further information on free movement of workers 

    In its monthly package of infringement decisions, the European Commission has announced it is pursuing legal action against 27 member states for failing to properly implement EU law. The 225 decisions taken today are to ensure citizens and businesses benefit from the proper application of EU law.  

     Other UK infringement decisions:

    Consumers: Commission urges the UK to transpose the Consumer Credit Directive

    Air transport: Commission launches infringement procedures against seven Member States over agreements with Russia on Siberian overflights

    For more information, please contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.
    Please note: all amounts expressed in sterling are for information purposes only.

    Last update: 28/01/2011  |Top