Cruise Ship Fires Indian Waiters

Owners of P&O Cruises 'Arcadia' dismiss Indian crew over pay protest

P&O Cruises have sacked 150 Indian waiters for protesting wages as low as 75 pence per hour (US$1.17) – eight times below the national minimum, reports the 'Hindustan Times'.

The waiters, the lowest paid in an Indian restaurant on board the cruise ship Arcadia, were sacked after going on a 90-minute, apparently good-natured protest. The action was prompted by plans to replace cash tips — a key supplement to basic wages — with billed tips that would be used to fund performance-related bonuses.

The Indian waiters were hired by Fleet Maritime Service International, a Mumbai-based firm registered in Bermuda with its payroll office in Guernsey, a tax haven, thus allowing it to ignore Britain’s minimum wage law of £6.08 (US$ 9.45) per hour.

Steve Todd of the RMT union, which represents British seafarers, said: “Big, reputable cruise companies have got convoluted ways of getting past the employment legislation of countries they belong to. It’s a shabby, unacceptable practice to exploit cheap foreign labour and it needs stamping out.”

A P&O spokeswoman said the waiters’ action was “without warning, ‘unofficial’ and greatly impacted our customers. Given the serious and inappropriate nature of the staff's actions P&O Cruises has decided not to offer any further contracts to the crew concerned.”


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