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Union calls for UK government to guarantee maritime resilience

1 September 2020

Nautilus is calling on the UK government to ensure long term industry resilience in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic and looming Brexit.

Government must commit to ensuring a strong and prosperous British maritime sector post-Brexit, the union said in a briefing document.

It urged the Department for Transport (DfT) to review the objectives in its Maritime 2050 strategy to ensure that the UK maritime industry is robust, secure for the future and better able to deal with a global crisis of the type we are now facing during the coronavirus pandemic.

'The UK's Maritime Resilience in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic' outlines what the government must do to boost British seafarer employment, help the industry thrive and improve maritime safety.

It outlines three 'key asks' of government:

  1. Review the employment status of seafarers, including the practice of 'offshore employment’ contracts that has left many seafarers unable to access financial support during the crisis
  2. Review state aid provided to the industry and what that delivers to the nation in support of its strategic and maritime security needs and ambitions as a maritime nation, and
  3. Review its policy of supporting the Red Ensign Group and develop a coherent flag registration policy which is consistent with its obligations under the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and which supports its stated aim of growing the UK Ship Registry.

Government ministers must ensure the needs of seafarers and growth of the UK shipping industry are at the forefront of discussions as the UK heads towards the December 2020 transition deadline.

The Union also urges the government to tighten UK ship registration to reinforce UNCLOS Article 94, which requires a genuine link between the shipowner and the country of registration.

It further calls for a global review of international regulations considering the Covid-19 pandemic when port states and flag states ignored the fundamental rights of seafarers in a way which was tantamount to forced labour.

The briefing document will be sent to MPs and to attendees of the upcoming Transport Select Committee which general secretary Mark Dickinson is speaking at on 9 September.


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