Nautilus International, the trade union, representing 20,000 maritime professionals working at sea and ashore, has welcomed the new shipping minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP and called for the government to take urgent action to safeguard the future of British shipping and avert a forecast shortage of home-grown maritime expertise.
Ms Tolhurst, who replaced the popular Nusrat Ghani in the role, was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport on 13 February 2020. The Rochester and Stroud MP is responsible for maritime, security and civil contingencies, aviation and Commons shadow roads. She previously served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Nautilus has written to the new appointee requesting a meeting to discuss its support for British seafarers as set out in its manifesto, 'Safeguarding the future of British Maritime', which outlines what it feels the government needs to do to boost British seafarer employment, help the industry thrive and improve maritime safety.
Nautilus general secretary, Mark Dickinson, said: “Ms Tolhurst has taken over at a critical time for the future of the industry and those who work within it. Nautilus looks forward to working with her in the future [but] we remain concerned about the future recognition of UK seafarer certificates as part of any trade agreement with the European Union. Since the result of the Brexit referendum was announced we have been calling for all existing health, safety, environmental and employment legislation to be maintained following the UK's withdrawal.
“The UK's maritime interests have continued to suffer decline, despite the previous government's attempts to develop a strategic and long-term vision for the sector through the Maritime Growth Study and the Maritime 2050 initiative. Nautilus is particularly keen to see the delivery of commitments made on the application of the National Minimum Wage to all seafarers serving in UK waters and improvements to the UK Tonnage Tax scheme.”
The trade union manifesto calls for significant investment in maritime education and training, stricter conditions over the issue of UK Certificates of Equivalent Competency (CECs), tighter controls on work permits and visas, the promotion of collective bargaining and the application of the National Minimum Wage to all seafarers serving in UK waters.
in addition it requests that the government ensures that the 'genuine link' requirement for ships on the UK Ship Register (UKSR) is enforced, encourage British ship owners using foreign flags to return to the UKSR and examine the scope for cabotage protection of domestic trades.