TO ALL SHIPPING BRANCHES AND REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our ref: S13/3
25th January 2021
Seafarers Earnings Deduction (SED)
I am writing to update you on your Union’s actions on the above matter, in line with Southampton Shipping Branch’s resolution which was endorsed by the National Executive Committee in October.
Seafarers Earnings Deduction (SED) writes off income tax on earnings outside UK waters in specific circumstances. It was introduced as the Foreign Earnings Deduction in 1977 and restricted to seafarers in 1988. The current form of the scheme was introduced in the early 1990s to benefit UK seafarer employment. In 2019-20, 22,000 seafarers qualified for total SED of £280m. SED is particularly important to the income of UK seafarers, including RMT members, working in the merchant shipping industry, particularly the cruise sector which has effectively been shut down by Covid-19.
In answers to the RMT Parliamentary Group, the Government claims that: “Seafarers that claim SED each year are likely to be able to add work done before COVID-19 restrictions to their previous eligible period, and so are unlikely to lose their SED entitlement.” This is totally at odds with what members are telling us about the impact of Covid-19 on their eligibility for this significant proportion of their annual income.
The maritime unions have consistently raised this problem in meetings of the Department for Transport’s Maritime Restart and Recovery Group, without a satisfactory result. I have written to the General Secretary of Nautilus International to request that the maritime unions maintain a united front in demanding action from the Government to take immediate steps to tackle the issue of SED during the pandemic, which continues to undermine the incomes of Ratings and Officers, particularly in the cruise and deep sea sectors.
I would be grateful if you would share this update with maritime members in your branch or region and I will keep you informed of further developments.
 Answer to Written Question 115606, 19 November 2020