RMT Maritime Cabotage Working Group - PLEASE RESPOND

Circular No: NP/198/23




Our ref: S1/1


15th November 2023


Dear Colleagues


RMT Maritime Cabotage Working Group – PLEASE RESPOND


I write further to Circular no.036 of 25th January 2021 to re-start the process of establishing the RMT Maritime Cabotage Working Group.


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 (ie shipping routes between domestic ports, including in the offshore energy sector) benefits local employment in terms of crewing, port activity and ship registration. 


RMT policy is to implement coastal cabotage laws across the UK. The Conservative Government in Westminster and some in the shipping industry remain opposed to introducing maritime cabotage protections for seafarers and other maritime workers. 


In line with the previous NEC instruction, the Union is establishing an RMT Maritime Cabotage Working Group, comprised of national and regional officials and maritime branches. Maritime cabotage laws apply to domestic routes so, by definition, reflect the law in each country. The purpose of the Working Group is to identify a suite of reforms and political objectives required to introduce maritime cabotage into UK law.  


For example, the extension of National Minimum Wage entitlement to seafarers working on domestic routes achieved by your Union in 2020 raises the need for enforceable UK employment protections, including sectoral collective bargaining and pension rights, for seafarer Ratings working on all domestic shipping routes. This would also include routes from UK ports to all offshore energy sites linked to the UK economy and would generate jobs and training for seafarer Ratings residing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 


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 d.crimes@rmt.org.uk


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. 


Through the International Transport Workers Federation’s (ITF) Cabotage Task Force, we can also provide up to date details of international maritime cabotage schemes that would help shape RMT’s demands for cabotage reform in the UK ahead of the General Election next year. 


I would be grateful if you could bring the content of this circular to the attention of all Shipping Branch members. You will be kept advised of all further developments.


Yours sincerely

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Mick Lynch

General Secretary