19 October 2016
RMT Press Office:
RMT says UK Flag is failing seafarers on “Atlantic Sea” and other ACL ships
MARITIME UNION RMT says that new UK flagged vessels like the Atlantic Sea – which is being ‘christened’ in Liverpool tomorrow, Thursday 20 October – are failing the shipping industry by not employing UK seafarers.
RMT members will be protesting with the "Save our Seafarers 2020" banner and handing out leaflets highlighting the plight of UK Seafarers from 1300 on Thursday at The Cruise Liner Terminal, Pier Head, Liverpool.
All of Atlantic Container Line’s (ACL) UK flagged fleet of new ro-ro container ships – the Atlantic Star, Atlantic Sail, Atlantic Sea, Atlantic Sky and Atlantic Sun – will not have a single UK seafarer working on-board, despite the vessels being registered in the Port of Liverpool.
The union welcomes ACL’s new investment in the maritime industry, including the £400m pumped into a new container terminal at Liverpool2 and the new tonnage onto the UK Flag. However, the proud maritime traditions of major port cities like Liverpool are ignored or forgotten when UK flagged vessels like the Atlantic Sea do not have any UK seafarers working on-board.
Taking into account leave patterns, training and turnover, the five new ACL container ships will eventually have a total of 300 crew working on-board.
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary, said:
“The Government’s policy is to double the amount of tonnage registered under the UK Flag by 2020. This could be a golden opportunity to rebuild UK seafarer numbers and preserve the trade for future generations.
“Shipping bosses cannot be allowed to employ the cheapest labour they can find in a race to the bottom to secure profits, while they destroy the domestic shipping industry, all the under the UK Flag.
“It is vital for the future of the seafaring industry in this country that there are UK seafarer jobs and training on UK Flagged ships, in addition to onshore jobs in maritime business and port services.”
1. Seafarer numbers have fallen 60% since the early 1980s and by 13% since 2011 to 23,380 by June 2015. UK Ratings are in particular decline, with a majority of the 8,830 at sea likely to retire by the end of the decade.
2. An ACL vessel, the Atlantic Conveyor was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence and sunk by hostile military action during the Falklands War in 1982, with the loss of six merchant navy seafarers from Cunard and six Royal Navy personnel. This sacrifice and the intrinsic link between domestic seafarer skills and national security, reinforce the case for the new fleet of ACL vessels, including the Atlantic Sea to have UK seafarers in the crew complement.