Nautilus welcomes fines for exploitation of tugboat crew

18 April 2019

Nautilus International has welcomed a Dutch court final ruling against the underpayment of crew onboard tugboats in the Amsterdam Port Area.

The case involved the alleged circumvention of the Dutch Minimum Wage Act by a port towing company in the Amsterdam port area a few years earlier.

The Dutch Inspectorate SZW took enforcement action and imposed fines on towing and salvage company Iskes. The Council of State, the highest court in the Netherlands, has now ruled that this was entirely justified.

Nautilus executive officer Sascha Meijer commented: 'We are pleased with this decision. This puts a stop to a major social abuse, namely the circumvention of the Minimum Wage Act in port towage.'

The Union's general secretary Mark Dickinson added that the ruling was welcome and gave added impetus to the Union's campaign against unfair competition.

'This ruling is important not just in the towage industry, but it shows the importance of the Fair Transport Europe campaign, which the Union, as a cross-boundary union, supports with its partner unions. Our younger members took part in youth journeys to Brussels in March to highlight these very issues. We are a global industry and we take action globally to protect members.'

'The Scottish Trades Union Congress meeting just this week has also highlighted abuses on minimum wage in the UK, so this ruling has resonance for all our members.'

The ruling marks the end of an eight-year struggle by Nautilus International against alleged exploitation abuses by the port tugboat company.

Nautilus had obtained evidence that the company was paying its Filipino employees well below the minimum wage. As a result, other workers in the sector lost their jobs. Their competitor saved on labour costs by sailing with cheap workers.

Payment below the minimum wage was, and still is, illegal on tugboats that are deployed in and from the Amsterdam port area, which is why Nautilus took the action.