A fair day’s pay

Dagger Diving Services

A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work? But what is a fair day’s wage? For an answer to this we must examine what is morally or socially fair.

This blog is about the pay scales of UK divers and highlighting how today, UK divers are being exploited in the same way young people on zero-hour contracts are being exploited in the employment market. The aim of the blog is to spark debate amongst the dive community with the hope of a unified call for change.

Companies within the UK pay divers a daily wage in the region of £110 – £200 per day, and some companies do not even pay for specialist skills such as welding and burning, expecting divers to just get in the water and get on with it.

The difference between a school leaver on a zero-hour contact working an unskilled job and an inshore diver are the qualifications needed to dive and most importantly, the cost incurred to gain these qualifications.

The rough costs to qualify to the standard of an inshore diver is in excess of £11,000*, (SCUBA – £3,500, Surface Supplied Course £5,300, Offshore Top-up £2,000, Dive Medical £100-£300pa, First Aid at work with o2 provide £400). This is the basic minimum requirement/cost and some companies are even asking for other inshore non-related certificates such as CSCS etc before they will even consider a diver eligible for work on site.

In addition, Ex-forces divers now have to pay a further £3,200 for HSE mandated training in order to bridge the gap between MOD and civilian diving regulations as well as a TOP UP Course.  Offshore divers also have the training costs of the DMT, 3.1U, 3.2U, MIST & bosiet and medical.

The daily rate of pay of £110-£200 would be great if only the work was regular, but like the young zero-hour contract worker, the work is sporadic and only at the behest of the employer….which can sometimes be just one day per week.

Some divers want dive experience and will accept a lower rate of pay just to get stamps in the log book.  As a diving contractor, I am fully aware that dive companies are undercutting each other on contracts and projects to win the work and paying the divers a tiny amount. They claim they are paying the going rate, but these rates haven’t changed for decades.

So, morally after incurring the training costs to dive how can this practice be acceptable?

More importantly, how can a diver who has worked just one day this week feed his family and pay his bills?

Recently, a company has publicly removed a diver from their database for not accepting their daily rates. What should the commercial dive community do to address the situation? How can we hold these diving contractors morally to account? Your comments please.

* Prices quoted are a rough guide across different UK training providers.