Merchant Navy Day 2020 – Thursday 3rd September

Circular No: NP/208/20


Our ref: S7/8/20

21st August 2020

Dear Colleagues

Merchant Navy Day 2020 – Thursday 3rd September

Further to circular no. NP/138 of 12th August 2019, Merchant Navy Day this year takes place on Thursday 3rd September.

In light of the unprecedented circumstances created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers, Seafarers UK are discouraging public gatherings but are asking participants to fly the Red Ensign from buildings, where it is safe to do so.

Seafarers in the UK and across the world have been in the front line of the social and economic impacts of the Coronavirus. Our members have helped keep the country supplied whilst employers like P&O Ferries have exploited the pandemic to make massive job cuts amongst UK Ratings at the earliest opportunity.

At international level, the crew change crisis is an ongoing travesty. Over 300,000 seafarers stranded on all types of merchant ship, unable to disembark despite the end of their contracts. This has painfully exposed the appalling lack of protection in international law for seafarers from the egregious ‘low cost’ crewing model. Since the first major outbreak of Coronavirus in the shipping industry amongst crew and passengers on the UK-registered Diamond Princess cruise ship in February, merchant seafarers have been and remain trapped on board thousands of merchant ships. This has caused the scandal of avoidable deaths amongst seafarers and a massive increase in fatigue, abandonment, unpaid wages, mental ill-health and periods of work that make a mockery of the 11-month legal limit set by the Maritime Labour Convention.

On this year’s Merchant Navy Day, RMT remember the incredible sacrifices merchant seafarers made in the past and stand in solidarity with our seafarer members, key workers keeping freight and passengers moving to and from our islands today. We also stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded on ships from Tilbury to Tokyo, failed by shipowners and the Flag of Convenience registers which have effectively imprisoned them.

RMT fully support Merchant Navy Day which was established by the charity Seafarers UK of which the Union is a trustee. Where it is safe to do so, Regional Offices are encouraged to fly or display the Red Ensign for one week from Thursday 3rd September.

If you need one, Seafarers UK recommend the following supplier of Red Ensign flags: Hampshire Flag Company of Waterlooville; Tel 02392 237130; Web Alternative suppliers can be found here:

I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of members in your branch and you will be kept updated with further developments.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary