ETF Awareness Day for Seafarers, March 2015

Circular No: NP/0243/14


Our ref: S1/3/6/7

18th November 2014

Dear Colleagues

ETF Awareness Day for Seafarers, March 2015

At the ETF Maritime Transport Section (MTS) meeting on 29th October 2014, ETF alerted RMT and other affiliates to the European Community Shipowners’ Association’s (ECSA) plans to hold European Shipping Week 2015 on 2nd to 6th March next year which would be accompanied by a series of pro-employer events in the European Parliament and elsewhere.

As a direct result of pressure applied by the National Secretary, the ETF agreed to organise an ‘Awareness Day’ in the European Parliament in Brussels during European Shipping Week. This would alert MEPs to the plight of seafarers and highlight the causes of the decline in European seafarer jobs in recent decades; the role of shipowners in accelerating and profiting from social dumping; and proposing remedies such as a Ferries Directive to reverse this dangerous decline.

The ETF Awareness Day for Seafarers will be held on either 4th or 5th March. RMT Shipping Branches are invited to nominate delegates to attend the ETF event in European Shipping Week 2015. Attendance will be considered a legitimate use of Branch funds. I will inform you of the exact date, travel and other details as soon as we know them.

Working with ratings unions 3F of Denmark and CGT of France, the union has developed a short paper to expose the outrageous exploitation practiced by shipping companies which is driving the decline in jobs and training for European seafarers and how politicians can take legislative action to tackle this problem. A copy of the paper (which will form the basis of RMT’s presentation during the Awareness Day) is attached and it would be appreciated if you could forward any Branch or individual comments on it to:

The ETF Awareness Day will be a good opportunity for seafarers from the UK and other European countries to apply political pressure on MEPs to take action in support of employment and training for European seafarers and to rein in shipowners’ neo-liberal crewing policies which continue unchecked, to the detriment jobs and the maritime skills base in Europe.

It should be noted that unlike some previous lobbies organised by ETF, RMT members and colleagues from other affiliated unions who attend the Awareness Day will have access to the European Parliament for this important event and will be able to seek out their own MEP or their staff to lobby.  RMT members will be issued with a briefing setting out our core demands and this will be circulated in good time before the Awareness Day.

It is also worth noting the comments of the new European Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc at the hearing confirming her appointment on 20th October, at which she said:

 “We also need fairness, to guarantee equal conditions, and let me state clearly that I am strongly opposed to social dumping.”
Although the Solvenian politician Violeta Bulc is, in UK party political terms a Liberal Democrat, these comments are clearly of potential use in the campaign against social dumping in the UK and European shipping industry.

You will be kept informed of the date and briefing material related to the ETF Awareness Day and it would be appreciated if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all members in your Branch.

Yours sincerely
Mick Cash
General Secretary