Government shipping policy

Circular No: NP/073/14


Our ref: S1/1/14

2nd April 2014

Dear Colleagues

Government shipping policy 

Further to the circular No. NP/262/13 of 4th October 2013, I am writing to update you on recent progress in the union’s work to influence the Government’s shipping strategy in favour of policies to increase training and job opportunities for UK seafarer ratings.

The union attended a meeting of the Government’s ‘Maritime Roundtable’ on 31st March 2014 at the Department for Transport, along with Nautilus, officials from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS), the Treasury, the Chamber of Shipping and other representatives from the shipping industry. The meeting was specifically called to discuss maritime employment and training issues, at the RMT’s request.

There were a number of positive outcomes from the meeting, in particular:

•    The DfT will submit the proposal for including UK ratings in the training commitments of the Tonnage Tax scheme to the Treasury for approval. This proposal was jointly submitted by RMT, Nautilus and the Chamber of Shipping.
•    Targeted enforcement work of the HMRC National Minimum Wage Enforcement Team will begin in the maritime sector before the end of July.
•    RMT, Nautilus and Chamber of Shipping will be appointed to the Working Group assessing the effectiveness of protections for seafarers against pay discrimination in Part 5 of the Equality Act 2010. This Group will start its work by June at the latest.
•    Government will write to all shipping companies supporting the new maritime apprenticeships that will be developed by industry and the unions, partly through the Merchant Navy Training Board which RMT sits on.

The progress made in extending the Tonnage Tax training commitments to ratings is positive, although it has yet to be passed by the Treasury. I will keep you updated with the outcome to this and RMT will continue to argue for a mandatory link in the Tonnage Tax for ratings training, as exists for officer cadets.
The news of action to enforce the NMW in the maritime sector is also encouraging, if long overdue and is the direct result of RMT pressure on Government. The union will do its utmost to ensure that the HMRC NMW Enforcement Team focuses its initial activities on low cost ferry operators, particularly in the Irish Sea and the Channel. I will keep you informed on the progress of this enforcement activity and any outcomes.

As well as the long standing RMT campaign on seafarers and the NMW, the union has also been calling on Government for over a decade to extend pay discrimination legislation to cover seafarers. The Equality Act Working Group will be another opportunity for RMT to make the case to Government for eradicating all forms of pay discrimination in the shipping industry, as recommended by the Carter Review 2010 commissioned by the previous Government.

RMT will also use its place on the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) to ensure that the new ratings apprenticeships (and which will replace the ratings apprenticeships introduced in June 2011) provide a good standard of training for new ratings for a decent wage, do not deter apprentices or employers from taking them up and are well publicised. I will keep you updated on the further work the union undertakes through the MNTB on the new maritime apprenticeships.

I would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all members in your Branch.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
Acting General Secretary