TO ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our Ref: S1/1
25th January 2021
Maritime Cabotage – Update
I am writing to update you on recent developments in your Union’s work on maritime cabotage, in line with the National Executive Committee’s instruction.
Cabotage laws exist in over ninety maritime countries around the world and in every region, including member states of the European Union. They are generally used to ensure that coastal trade, including in the offshore energy sector, benefits local labour, in terms of crewing, port activity and ship registration.
In Canada, for example, cabotage regulations require shipowners to obtain temporary work permits to employ foreign crews on domestic routes and to pay them a rate based on the collectively bargained rate established by the Canadian unions. Shipowners must also use Canadian flagged vessels or a foreign-flagged vessel with dispensation to operate in Canadian waters. Dispensation is only issued if there is no suitable Canadian-flagged vessel available to do the work. These policies have secured Canadian seafarer jobs and increased the tonnage registered on the Canadian flag by 30%.
RMT policy is to implement coastal cabotage laws across the UK and we have had a good start to 2021. On 12th January, the Union held a roundtable on ‘Post-Brexit Opportunities for UK Seafarers’ with the Shipping Minister (Robert Courts MP) and the Employment Minister (Paul Scully MP). In response to the Union’s demands for an end to the UK Government’s opposition to cabotage reforms, the Shipping Minister, Robert Courts MP has since agreed to establish a Working Group with maritime unions and industry to set targets for significantly increasing the number of UK Ratings and Officers. This will include looking at cabotage reforms.
In line with the NEC instruction, the Union will establish an RMT Cabotage Working Group, comprised of national and regional officials and maritime branches to agree and set our cabotage demands in stone. Maritime Branches are requested to nominate one delegate and one substitute delegate each to be represented on the Cabotage Working Group. Please email names of the Branch delegate and substitute to the National Policy Department firstname.lastname@example.org
Members in all Maritime Branches are also encouraged to discuss cabotage issues in branch meetings and to submit any proposals via their representative on the RMT Cabotage Working Group.
We have also asked the International Transport Workers Federation’s (ITF) Cabotage Task Force to provide more details of international coastal cabotage schemes that would help shape RMT’s demands for cabotage reform in the UK. This information will be reported to the Cabotage Working Group and at future events on maritime cabotage which I am in the process of organising.
Finally, the significance of cabotage reform to securing more jobs for seafarers, divers and other supply chain workers in the UK is illustrated by the emerging offshore wind sector in the United States. Under the Jones Act protections (which are a form of cabotage), over 83,000 direct and supply chain jobs will be created from delivering 30GW of offshore wind energy on the east coast of the USA by 2030. The UK Government’s job creation target from 30GW of wind energy capacity by 2030 is 60,000.
I would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all members in your Branch and you will be kept updated with further developments.