Seafarer Deaths within the Irish Sea

Our Ref: HSR/1/2
Head Office Circular: NP/327/21
27th August 2021
To: The Secretary

Dear Colleague,


Following the tragic death of a seafarer engaged in cargo operations on the Clipper Pennant, a Seatruck Ferries vessel on 20th July 2021, your National Executive Committee, at its meeting on 26th August, resolved as follows:

We note the report on file from the National Secretary regarding the fatality as Seatruck Ferries, the third such event in three years. Whilst we do not have a CBA with Seatruck, nor is the Seafarer a member of this union, the fatalities, particularly within the Irish Sea Ferry Sector, are a concern to this union.

We further note this union’s efforts previously regarding a ship to shore interface of safety reps, given that no interaction takes place between ship and shore representatives regarding safety issues with regard to safety protocols, procedures and concerns.

The safety record of Seatruck needs to be challenged and we fear that the MAIB report will place blame on the workers and human error without any accountability placed on Seatruck and its directors.

Whilst we as a trade union recognise that no worker should be killed in the workplace, we equally recognise that within the maritime sector charges against companies are often nothing more than a “slap on the wrist” and we believe we should be looking to:

1 - seek the views of all Maritime Branches and Regional Councils on corporate accountability for workers

2 - seek a legal opinion to ascertain the mechanism for how corporate responsibility claims are processed, and the specific difficulties for maritime sector jurisdiction and the role in which a flag may play when a seafarer is killed when in a UK port/ waters

3 - seek to identify any known campaign around this subject matter

4 - write to the Shipping Minister reaffirming our concerns surrounding maritime health and safety

5 - write to shipping companies operating within the Irish Sea, raising our concerns and seeking joint initiatives to improve safety awareness, specifically during cargo operations.

6 - place before both Industrial Organising Conferences in October.

I am acting in accordance with this instruction and will keep you advised of developments.

Yours sincerely

Michael Lynch
General Secretary