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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Cunard denies ship registration switch is “smoke screen” for staff wage cuts

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Cunard has denied that the decision to switch the registration of its ships from the UK to Bermuda at the start of next year is aimed at circumventing domestic employment laws on pay and conditions.

Peter Shanks, the luxury cruise operator’s managing director, told the Telegraph that the move was instead intended to enable ships to hold wedding ceremonies at sea – ceremonies that are not recognised under UK law. The market is already a lucrative one for the company’s sister cruise lines, P&O and Princess.
 
“Most of our competitors have been developing increasingly popular and lucrative weddings-at-sea programmes, and these are now very big business in the cruise industry,” he said. “We receive a lot of enquiries about the possibility of being married on one of our ships – particularly about wedding in the mid-Atlantic on board Queen Mary 2, which no other company can offer.”
 
Cunard plans to provide on-board weddings from next spring on all three of its ships, which also include the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
 
But critics of the registration change fear that the move is simply intended to save the firm money because it will mean that the wages and conditions of crew, many of whom come from Eastern Europe, are no longer subject to UK employment law.
 
Kevin Clark said of the situation on Cunard’s Facebook page: “I do hope that removing ‘Southampton’ from the Queen’s sterns is all that changes. I do feel that the whole wedding thing is a smoke screen for the wage related issue and that is what has really prompted this decision.”
 
Richard Chalu continued: “How many cruise ships are there in the world? Hundreds. How many do I put on a pedestal? Three. We ARE Cunard. There should be none other like you. This tissue-thin wedding excuse is a veil for avoiding the UK’s National Minimum Wage laws.”
 
But Shanks defended the decision to the Daily Mirror, denying it had anything to do with cutting staff pay and conditions. “We pride ourselves on how we look after every member of our crew,” he said.
 
 
 
 
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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