Report Crewing Agencies exploiting seafarers

Circular No: NP/288/20


Our Ref: S1/1 S1/7

20th November 2020

Dear Colleague,

Report Crewing Agencies exploiting seafarers

Further to circular NP/257 of 20th October 2020, I write to update you on progress we have made on this matter.

A meeting was held today with Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and Department for Transport (DfT) officials on the regulation of crewing agencies. This was set up after RMT members responded to the previous request with evidence of online adverts for Ratings jobs on exploitative terms and conditions.

The MCA operates a voluntary scheme to approve crewing agencies and to certify Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) compliance. Your union believes that this should be a mandatory scheme. Responsibility for regulating crewing agents in the UK shipping industry is held by the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate (EASI) which sits in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) but complaints against crewing agents should be first made to ACAS. This process needs to be simplified and strengthened.

It is crystal clear that this lack of regulation is failing to protect seafarers from the effects of day rates as low as $30 in UK waters. As such, the Government is failing in its duty to protect seafarers’ rights and the jobs of UK Ratings, who are key workers, at a critical point in the economic response to the pandemic. The political response to this development is being considered and we have raised this matter with our sister union Nautilus. A meeting with EASI, BEIS, the MCA and DfT is being arranged and this matter will be raised at the next meeting of the MLC Tri-Partite Working Group.

Evidence provided by RMT members is central to the fight against these disgraceful crewing practices. I applaud those who have already provided this vital evidence. All members are asked to report any online or print adverts for Ratings jobs which undermine the RMT’s collectively bargained terms and conditions, the National Minimum/Living Wage, future cabotage protections or the MLC. Please email screenshots and any other evidence of predatory crewing agents attacking Ratings’ employment conditions to the National Policy Department

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.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary