Lifeboat Legislation Change

Our Ref: HSR/2/6
Head Office Circular: NP/186/19
8th October 2019
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,



Under Item 36, AGM 2018 adopted the following resolution:

That we the Belfast Shipping Branch call upon this Biennial Shipping and Docks Organising Conference to instruct the National Executive Committee to set up a working party to put pressure on the MCA to change legislation with regards to the launching of lifeboats. For too many years now there has been numerous incidents that have resulted in loss of life and serious injury during weekly drills on board ships.

One of our aims would be to follow a similar model that is in practice in other countries, such as Australia, where union pressure on AMSA has resulted in an agreement that boats are lowered to the water line empty and only boarded by the crew by means of workboats or FRC.

We would also seek to look at legal avenues whereby companies are made aware of the ramifications that come with placing employees in danger and their liability should an incident occur.

It is a disgrace that in this day and age of Health & Safety regulations, our members are still being instructed to put their lives in danger on a weekly basis to participate in so called safety training that is known to result in more than 70% of all deaths at sea.

We need to act now to protect our members and insure that they return to their families in one piece.

At their meeting of 26th September 2019, the National Executive Committee adopted the following report of their Health and Safety Sub-committee:

We note the resolution on file and reiterate our previous Decisions to ensure that the use and operation of lifeboats is a safe practice. Lifeboat drills are to be completed under legislative regulation, however that stand-alone practice must be the safest process and manoeuvres possible. We look to work within the industry and with our sister unions to meet the challenge for safety process, design and practice. We instruct the General Secretary to put in place arrangements for a working party.

Branches and Regional Councils to be advised.

RMT are now committed to establishing a working party of active maritime sector members with an intertest in this matter. A first meeting of the working party will take place in December 2019. To this end Shipping Branches are asked to nominate one member per Branch to participate in the working party. Nomination should be made by e-mail to no later than Friday 29th November 2019.


Please make the contents of this circular available to all appropriate members.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary