The threat of piracy has become so bad that seafarers should seriously consider a boycott of the danger areas, the Nautilus General Meeting heard.
‘If you were to start stopping the world’s oil supply there would soon be some action,’ former Council chairman John Epsom told the conference. ‘The power is in your hands and it would make a lot of difference very quickly.’
Speaking on a motion about the piracy problem, Captain Mike Lloyd suggested the Union should campaign for a change in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea so that naval forces could be allowed to operate in the territorial waters of countries that are officially deemed to be ‘failed states’.
Dutch and British members expressed fears that cuts in defence budgets may reduce the effectiveness of the anti-piracy naval patrols. Royal Fleet Auxiliary liaison officer David Gatenby pointed out: ‘The assets are already so thinly spread that it is like a needle in a haystack. We urge governments to stop making more cuts and give the organisations out there the resources they need to do their job.’
Several speakers raised concerns about seafarers being forced to serve in high-risk areas, but Nautilus senior national secretary Allan Graveson assured the meeting that the Union would support any members who were threatened by their employers in such a situation.
General secretary Mark Dickinson questioned whether unions could deliver a global boycott of the danger areas. ‘There are plenty of shipowners who will be prepared to put their vessels into harm’s way if there is money to be made,’ he pointed out. ‘But I call upon the good shipowners to join with the ITF and Nautilus in considering how we can deliver a very firm message to governments that we have had enough and that the problems need to be resolved quickly and in a decisive way.’
Council chairman Ulrich Jurgens presented the Nautilus Award to Royal Fleet Auxiliary Commodore Bill Walworth in recognition of the counter-piracy work of the RFA. He also presented the Nautilus Award to Steve Cotton, of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, in recognition of its role in the global Save Our Seafarers campaign, which secured more than one million signatures calling for governments to take more effective action against piracy.