27 January 2016
RMT Press Office:
Maritime union RMT today welcomed the 4.8% increase in the number of UK Ratings at sea in 2015 but urged the Government and industry to do more to train and employ the next generation of UK Ratings in every department of a ship.
According to the Department for Transport’s Annual Seafarer Statistics, the number of UK Ratings in the shipping industry increased by 410 (4.8%) in 2015, the first increase since 2011. However, this modest increase was almost entirely confined to the catering and onboard services departments, where insecure employment contracts such as zero hours are common. The number of engine ratings fell by 13% and deck rating numbers remained flat. If this trend continues, the UK will have no deck and engine ratings by the end of the decade and the UK will lose the capacity to operate all classes of ship, damaging the skills base, as well as harming the UK’s economic and national security.
National Secretary Steve Todd said:
“RMT welcome any increase in jobs for UK seafarers but this is no time for the industry and Government to start patting themselves on the back. Make no mistake, the headline figure may be a 5% increase but overall UK Ratings again lost out in 2015 and the position for ratings remains desperate. Government needs to get its finger out and compel industry to use the Tonnage Tax scheme and new maritime apprenticeships to sign up the next generation of UK ratings in deck, engine, catering and onboard services.
“The UK cannot afford to lose the expertise of deck and engine ratings that still work in the industry just because the Government does not have the gumption to get a grip on low cost operators like Condor and Irish Ferries. We must see UK ratings retained, employed and trained in greater numbers than we have seen so far this century otherwise we will continue to lose jobs and the vital links between seafaring skills and economic and national security.”
General Secretary, Mick Cash said:
“This figure may buck the trend of constant falling numbers of Ratings but the Government and industry will have to do a whole lot more to build on this modest and unbalanced increase to avoid a record of neglect of UK seafarers. RMT remains committed to increasing training and employment of UK Ratings but the industry must stop side-stepping policies such as the new link to Ratings training through the Tonnage Tax if the slight increase over 2015 is going to lead to a balanced and sustained revival in UK Ratings’ employment and skills.
“The overall decline in UK seafarer numbers in recent years continues to damage seafarer communities, employment standards and the national maritime skills base. RMT will no longer stand for industry setting the agenda and will continue to call this Government out on its failure to protect UK seafarers’ jobs from unfair competition in an industry addicted to cheap labour, flags of convenience and undermining UK employment and equality legislation.”
The Department for Transport’s Annual Seafarer Statistics can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/seafarer-statistics-2015