Employees of Indian companies hired to replace P&O ferry crews in Dover are being paid £ 1.81 per hour, a union has claimed.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) said the low wages were a “traumatic exploitation” and “betrayal of those who have been fired”.
The P&O also said the number was inaccurate but said companies could not comment on how much they paid workers on the ferry.
Some P&O ferries are registered in Cyprus, which means they do not have to pay the minimum wage required by UK law.
Companies using UK ports often register ships in other countries, allowing them to pay lower wages.
The minimum wage in the UK is 23 8.91 per hour for people 23 years of age or older.
Transport Secretary Grant Shaps told parliament: “Marine workers in this country, in fact, in most parts of the world, do not enjoy the same benefits and protections that would otherwise exist for workers and it is simply not good enough and it is a habit of ours. Wants to finish. “
He said ships in UK waters are governed by international law governed by treaties, so UK law does not always apply.
“These complications allow employers to take advantage of what we’ve seen with P&O ferries,” Mr Shaps added.
Mr Shaps told lawmakers he first learned of the possibility of P&O redundancy at 20:30 GMT, the day before the workers were fired, but said it was not until he arrived in the mailbox the next day. Completely aware of the scale.
Earlier, Transport Department officials told the BBC that Mr Shaps and Maritime Minister Robert Courts had not been notified until Thursday.
Shadow Transport Secretary Lewis High said government ministers had “completely failed to act” and that the reported pay rates were “nothing less than the betrayal of workers protecting the country’s supply chain during the epidemic”.
A P&O spokesman said safety was a top priority and the new Crowing Management model was used by many competitors.
“They have recruited high quality experienced sailors who will now familiarize themselves with the ships through all the mandatory training requirements set by our regulators,” he said.
Mr Shaps said the government was reviewing all its agreements with P&O Ferry.
He asked the bankruptcy service if P&O had followed the rules for redundancy – and if they did not, “it would be a matter of criminal justice and unlimited fines”.
Mr Shaps told MPs that P&O ferries should remove British references from their ships if they were accompanied by non-UK workers instead of dismissed workers.
Among the names used for operator ferries are The Spirit of Britain, Pride of Canterbury and Pride of Hull.
The Transport Secretary told MPs that it would be “completely inappropriate” for the company to “associate itself with this country” without British workers.
Demonstrations also took place near Parliament and outside the London office of P&O owners on Monday, DP World said.
John, a former sailor with P&O Ferries in Dover, said it was “a disaster” for all the crew involved in the redundancy and wanted the company’s chief executive to resign.
“A company that has built its reputation for more than 180 years is simply responsible for throwing garbage one morning at a time.
“It’s not just a job, it’s a house and the most unpleasant way to get off the ship … it’s a disaster for all of our lives,” added John, who did not want to be named.
He hopes to lose his separation salary for talking to the media, but says he “knows the difference between right and wrong.”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said P&O workers were being “replaced by exploited workers, weaker workers from abroad”.
“We have no beef with those people. We want the people to be paid the wages we have negotiated in this country, “he said.
The union has called for a boycott of P&O services and urged the government to look into legal options to reinstate dismissed workers.
Ferries between Liverpool and Dublin have resumed and other routes are expected to follow by the end of the week.
Services were shut down on Thursday after P&O announced in a video call that 800 workers were being laid off immediately.
The Kent M20 will be closed between 20 and 8:00 GMT between junctions 8 and 9 when a barrier is put in place to handle any disruption caused by P&O freight, National Highways said.
The motorway is expected to reopen on Tuesday at 06:00 GMT when lorries heading to the port of Dover or the Eurotunnel will use the coastal carriageway on the M20, where it will be lined up if needed.
All other traffic – including local freight and motorists heading to the continent – should follow the signs and the M20 should cross the London-bound carriageway to enter Contraflo, National Highways said.
The new P&O crew costs less than £ 2 per hour, the union claims