18 March 2020
RMT Press Office
RMT sets out series of measures to protect UK ports and shipping workforce from Coronavirus impact
SEAFARERS’ union RMT today called for specific measures to preserve Ratings’ jobs, skills and livelihoods in light of COVID-19's devastating impact on shipping activity to and from UK ports.
RMT propose the following reforms to protect seafarers and to help play a part in the national response to the threat of socio-economic chaos from the coronavirus:
* Full pay for six months for seafarers laid off; and half pay for another six months.
* Agency seafarers to be entitled to full pay for the remainder of any cancelled contracts, regardless of nationality.
* Government to re-introduce and administer the 'seafarer pool' to provide UK Ratings and Officers to companies experiencing seafarer shortages.
* MCA to audit status of UK seafarer qualifications and support Ratings, Officers and maritime training providers to use this period to refresh ENG1 and basic STCW qualifications.
* Reduce numbers of cancelled sailings by increasing training berths for trainee Ratings and newly qualified Cadets on passenger ferries.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“Seafarers and regulators working on passenger and freight ferries, offshore supply, cruise and other sectors are under sudden and immediate pressure from travel restrictions, collapsing commercial activity and public health strategies for controlling the spread of coronavirus.
“As well as specific measures to support self-employed workers in offshore energy and the taxi trade, RMT is calling on the Government to commit to specific measures to protect our remaining seafarer workforce from decimation as a result of COVID-19.
“Successive Governments have allowed the number of British Ratings to decline as a proportion of the seafarer workforce, to the extent that domestic seafarers only hold 19% of Ratings jobs in the UK shipping industry. This means our economy is heavily reliant on imported seafarers, especially from non-EEA countries where severe restrictions on movement have been imposed in response to COVID-19.
“It doesn't take a genius to work out that this crisis could quickly turn into a disaster for our embattled maritime workers, the shipping industry and UK society. We rely on maritime transport to deliver half of the food [30% EU, 20% non-EU] we consume and the Government needs to intervene to re-balance the shipping industry and prevent this crisis from extinguishing our members' jobs, their livelihoods or the country's maritime skills’ base.”