RMT criticises the Chancellor for failing British seafarers

RMT criticises the Chancellor for failing British seafarers

27 October 2021

RMT Press Office:

RMT criticising the Chancellor for failing British seafarers in Budget.

SEAFARER Union RMT today criticised the Chancellor’s proposals for Tonnage Tax reform announced in the Budget which made no reference at all to jobs or training for UK Ratings:

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“Tonnage Tax was already a bad deal for British Ratings but the Brexit vote gives the government the chance to amend state aid schemes like Tonnage Tax to directly benefit Ratings and maritime communities, reversing the long term decline we have seen in seafarer jobs in the UK and across the EU. Instead, the Chancellor is choosing to compete with flags of convenience like Cyprus, Malta and Singapore which operate tonnage tax schemes that openly drive down seafarer pay and conditions to levels that UK seafarers cannot be expected to compete with.

"Only 75 Ratings have been trained on ships that qualify for the UK Tonnage Tax whilst shipowners from around the world have received over £2.165 billion in tax relief since the scheme was introduced. But this is not just about training. Only 13% of Ratings working in the UK shipping industry live and spend their money in the UK.

" We can understand why the scheme is to be extended to growth areas in shipping and decarbonisation but without mandatory links to apprenticeship training and permanent employment for British seafarers, the Tonnage Tax scheme will continue to benefit the world’s wealthiest shipowners at the expense of seafarers and their families in this country.

"This is economic madness for an island nation emerging from the pandemic and magnifies the worst impacts on seafarers from EU membership. We need a system of cabotage laws based on the Jones Act in the USA to put seafarers at the heart of UK shipping, not a complete capitulation to global capitalism.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

 

  1. In his Budget statement earlier today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Tonnage Tax will be reformed, extending tax relief to EU and non-EU shipowners in order to attract more merchant ships to the Red Ensign. This policy is uncosted.
  2. There were over 30,000 UK Ratings in the shipping industry in the 1980s. That number had fallen to just over 9,000 by June 2020 – 13% of the total number of Ratings jobs on ships owned by members of the UK Chamber of Shipping.
  3. RMT organise seafarer Ratings in the short and deep sea sector of the merchant shipping industry and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. The RFA is not directly affected by Tonnage Tax policy. Ratings work in deck, engine, catering and on-board service roles in support of Officer grades.
  4. According to the European Transport Workers Federation, under 40% of seafarer jobs in Europe are held by domestic crew https://www.etf-europe.org/our_work/maritime-transport/
  5. As the table below demonstrates, UK and international shipowners have benefitted handsomely from corporation tax relief available to Tonnage Tax qualifying companies. This relief sees some of the world’s wealthiest shipowners paying a nominal corporation tax rate of 1-2%.

 

Tonnage Tax relief to qualifying shipowners 2000-2020

 

 

Financial year

Reduction in tax liabilities (£m)

Number of Ratings trained[1]

2000-013

60

No figures

2001-023

65

No figures

2002-033

70

No figures

2003-043

80

No figures

2004-053

90

No figures

2005-06

90

No figures

2006-07

100

No figures

2007-08

170

No figures

2008-09

225

No figures

2009-10

95

No figures

2010-112

100

No figures

2011-12

115

No figures

2012-13

100

No figures

2013-14

100

No figures

2014-15

95

No figures

2015-16 

100

6

2016-17 

115

13

2017-18

135

31

2018-19 

125

25[2]

2019-20[3]

135

No figures

Total

£2.165 billion

75 Ratings trained

 

 

[1] Written Answer to PQ247013, 5th May 2019.

2 Written Answer to PQ1659, 17th October 2019.

3 Forecast HM Treasury Estimated Cost of Non-Structural Tax Reliefs (Corporation Tax) October 2020.

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Tagged with: Seafarers, UK Ratings, Tonnage Tax, Red Ensign, Tory Government, Rishi Sunak,