Nautilus has urged the UK government to provide practical support and reassurances for British seafarers whose ability to work in Europe could be affected by Brexit.
General secretary Mark Dickinson and UK Chamber of Shipping chief executive Bob Sanguinetti met shipping minister Nusrat Ghani for ‘constructive’ discussions about the maritime impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
High on the agenda was the future recognition of UK certificates of competency by other EU member states. 'We discussed the issue of mutual recognition and the measures being taken to mitigate the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, including the government having written to the Netherlands, Greece, Cyprus, Malta and Denmark, urging them to continue to recognise UK certificates after we leave the EU,' Mr Dickinson said.
Nautilus asked the minister to make a renewed public statement of reassurance and to write to all officers whose certificates are due to expire in next 12 months - estimated to be around 500. Ms Ghani said she would follow up on this during a meeting with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.
Mr Dickinson said he had suggested a hotline/dedicated email address to handle queries about certification and for a 'fast-track' priority system for any officers needing to urgently renew their certificates. 'The government will look into that, but feel that there are the necessary measures in place already,' he added.
Nautilus also urged the minister to ensure that the UK was ready to undergo a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) audit of its certification processes and also asked how the UK will assess the training and certification of other countries – a role that EMSA presently undertakes for EU member states. 'The response was that the UK already approves 50 countries and has the experience to continue that after Brexit. They don’t see this as a problem,' Mr Dickinson commented.
The Union also asked the minister to provide information about the outcome of the review of UK certificates of equivalent competency, which was concluded last year.
Mr Dickinson described the meeting as productive. 'As social partners, it was reassuring to hear of the minister’s determination to ensure that UK CoC holders could continue to work in the EU fleet,’ he added. ‘We pledged to do what we can to ensure that officers are aware of what measures have been taken and the availability of support from the MCA to anyone seeking to renew CoCs now.'