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Celebrity Cruises investigating low pay accusations on Channel 4's dispatches
12:15pm Tuesday 2nd October 2012 in Shipping
“Celebrity Cruises appreciates that the hard work and dedication of its thousands of onboard crew members is the main reason why Celebrity Cruises is ranked amongst the top of the premium cruise category since it was founded 20 years ago.
“Our business success is intrinsically linked to the service our crews provide our guests with, which is why the satisfaction of our employees is extremely important to us.
THE cruise fim at the centre of an undercover TV documentary about low pay onboard its vessels has vowed to to do its utmost to investigate the claims.
In a statement, Celebrity Cruises, which has a number of ships based in Southampton, has said it 'stands by' pay and conditions for its staff.
The statement, reads: “Celebrity Cruises is taking immediate steps to investigate all of the allegations made by the undercover reporter to determine their basis and validity.
“If we discover that anyone within the company, or at the hiring and placement agencies we work with, violated our procedures and requirements, or the European and international Labour regulations to which we adhere to, then we will take swift and corrective actions.
“Our company stands behind the pay, benefits and working conditions we offer our employees.
“As a business, Celebrity Cruises creates thousands of global job opportunities each year, giving employees on shore and on our ships the chance to significantly increase their earnings potential and provide financial support to their families.
“While the ships of Celebrity Cruises are built and flagged in foreign countries, shipboard employees are covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement for terms and conditions of employment negotiated by labour unions affiliated with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
“These labour agreements provide reasonable pay and benefits to employees, including guaranteed monthly pay for tip-earning employees.
“This means that crew members are protected with a significant guaranteed pay rate in the event lower tips are collected in a certain month. Most tip-earning employees receive tips that are significantly higher than the minimum guarantee each month.
“The labour agreements also contain mandatory pay for overtime work, free room and board during service on board, mandatory rest hours for each employee, medical coverage and sick pay if the employee becomes injured or ill, disability pay, compensation in the event of death in the service of the vessel, including death from natural causes, a retirement pay plan and many other benefits.
“For the last several years, Celebrity Cruises has been working closely with the labour unions to bring the labour agreements in line with the Maritime Labour Convention of 2006, which provides further standards for employees, including employees working on ships in all the flag states where our vessels are registered.
“The Maritime Labour Convention was created by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and involved negotiations from seafarer labour interests, member nations and shipping interests as part of a tripartite unit. The Convention will take full force in August of 2013.
“Celebrity Cruises mandates that employment agreements are provided to crew signing on the ships for a new assignment on their first day on board.
“In the case of this reporter, a mistake regarding his position and salary was made by the hiring partner, who has acknowledged the error.
“This error led to his contract being corrected once he was on board, which caused a delay. However, he did know his correct position prior to joining the ship as he signed a New Hire Checklist which correctly stated his starting position of assistant waiter.
“We recognise that in his case there was a discrepancy in our normal procedure, which was acknowledged and corrected.
“On all ships, employees have 24/7 access to an anonymous ethics hotline or e-mail address where complaints regarding employment conditions can be easily and confidentially made to the corporate offices.
“In addition, there are Human Resources Managers available to confidentially express any concerns they may have, and there is also a grievance process involving union representatives in the event a grievance cannot be resolved on board.
“During his short time of employment, the reporter did not use any of these avenues to voice his complaints.
“Celebrity Cruises prohibits hiring partners and recruiting agencies from collecting fees from employees seeking employment onboard our vessels, except for preapproved costs.
“Preapproved costs include a required pre-employment medical examination, costs for a visa and certain travel costs, which is standard in the industry.
“Any additional costs charged by the hiring partners are forbidden and Celebrity Cruises will take appropriate action against any agency violating these requirements.
“Celebrity Cruises denies any claim stating that employees are assigned workloads which require them to hire a personal helper to complete.
“There have been instances where employees voluntarily pay another employee to assist them with their work; however, this practice is not sanctioned by the company and equally, is not a violation of the labour agreements.
“Celebrity Cruises acknowledges that working onboard a ship can be challenging and is not for everyone. However, we believe our crew members realise that in return for their hard work they receive benefits that include good pay, extensive vacation time, career advancement for top performers, and travel and adventure.
“That is why Celebrity Cruises routinely receives high crew satisfaction scores from confidential surveys, and many employees work with us for years while providing financial support for their families.
“While we are disappointed to hear the concerns stated by the reporter regarding his short time working onboard, we don't believe these are representative of the more than 13,000 satisfied shipboard employees who deliver memorable holidays for our guests.”