26 March 2014
RMT today broadly welcomed the Commons Transport Committee’s recommendations on the Coalition Government’s strategy for UK shipping which endorses the union’s long term demand for reform of the Tonnage Tax scheme to benefit seafarer ratings.
The Committee also made helpful recommendations on resource and staffing levels at the industry regulator (the Maritime and Coastguard Agency) and employment standards on ships flying Red Ensign Group flags.
The union was disappointed, however, by the lack of recommendations from the Committee to reverse the ongoing decline in UK seafarers, which fell again by 5% in 2013 to a total of ratings and officers of 22,830.
The union’s Senior Assistant General Secretary, Mick Cash, said:
“Today’s report offers some recommendations that are to be welcomed around seafarer training, most notably that the reform of the Tonnage Tax should include ratings’ training.
“RMT also welcomes a proposed review of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) to assess whether it can cope with implementing the Maritime Labour Convention and other responsibilities in light of ongoing cuts to its budget and staff.”
RMT’s National Shipping Secretary, Steve Todd, added:
“This is a welcome report in terms of training opportunities for ratings, defending the maritime skills base and providing a safe working environment for seafarers.
“Despite the positive recommendations in addressing the demographic problems facing the UK shipping industry, it is a shame that the Committee did not follow the logic of these statements and make some recommendations on reversing the decline in seafarer numbers which is being driven by unequal application of employment and equality law, and continues to threaten seafarers’ jobs in Stena Line in the Irish Sea for example. RMT will continue to put pressure on employers and national governments to ensure decent pay, employment rights and safe working conditions for our seafarers.”