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UK shipping minister pledges close working with maritime unions

28 April 2020

UK maritime minister Kelly Tolhurst has given Nautilus a commitment that the government will work with unions to make sure the UK shipping industry emerges from the coronavirus crisis stronger than it was before.

In a 27 April conference call with the minister, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson stressed the need for action on crew reliefs so that members can get back to work and those stuck on ships can come home.

He also asked for clarity over the eligibility of officers who are effectively self-employed for government support during the pandemic.

Looking to the future, the general secretary called for a tripartite review of the structure of the shipping industry, investigating the consequences of using non-UK flags and looking at the crew sources and offshore employment policies of many employers which have exposed weaknesses in the UK's maritime resilience.

Mr Dickinson thanked the minister for her support for seafarers as key workers, and for the package of support for the UK's essential ferry routes. He also highlighted the Offshore Coordinating Group's call for further government intervention to support the offshore industry.

The general secretary pointed out that that the government's interventions to respond to the challenges of the pandemic have shown that no policy measures are off the table any longer. He committed to bring forward ideas that the Union has trialled before, which seek to support UK shipping and UK employment. These are, he stressed, policy interventions that are fundamentally designed to ensure the country's resilience and economic strength as an island nation. They will contribute to a renewed maritime strategy focused on growing UK maritime with a strong UK maritime skills base.

The minister said she would welcome these ideas from Nautilus and was 'absolutely up for working with the maritime unions now and after we restart'.

She added: 'We need to build consumer confidence, promote the industry and crucially promote careers.'


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