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Education and training

Cadet column: It's your Union

1 September 2022

In these troubled times, it's important to have a Union like Nautilus International on your side.

That's true in a personal sense, because there's a good chance that sometime during your cadetship or in your future maritime career you will face a difficult situation, when the negotiating power or legal assistance of a Union can make all the difference.

Many of our members, for example, were trapped aboard during the crew change crisis. Others have been unable to get their seatime, with companies using the continued pandemic restrictions as an excuse. Cadets shouldn't have to spend extra time and face extra study costs because sponsors haven't lived up to their responsibilities. This is an issue we are continuing to fight on, with some real successes highlighted in recent Telegraphs.

It's also important politically. You may have seen that Nautilus joined with other organisations in advising the UK government to allocate greater funding to maritime cadet training. It has now been announced that, from this year, UK cadetships will be 50% funded rather than 30%, so that more people have the chance to join the industry.

While there's plenty the Union can do for you, there are also things you can do to help your Union. One important action you can take is to encourage others to sign up. We really are only as strong as our membership – so the more seafarers join Nautilus, the stronger our collective voice becomes in negotiations with colleges, companies and governments.

As a member, you can also show us how to represent your interests. We rely on our members to bring their issues to us, as we can't deal with a problem unless we know it exists. I'm available on email of course, but I also visit colleges throughout the year.

The regular Nautilus Young Maritime Professionals Forum is a great place to talk with other cadets and members of all ranks and roles who are under the age of 35. If there's something you'd like to put on the agenda, please email I hope to hear from you, or meet you in person, very soon.

Ask the expert – harassment and cadet welfare support

Q: I'm at sea right now. I’ve been dealing with harassment but now things have gone too far, what should I do?

A: The first thing to know is that you are not alone.

Sadly, this situation is all too common. Abuse and harassment can be experienced by anyone at sea, whatever their sex, race or sexuality. Female cadets and LGBT+ cadets do face particular issues, especially when onboard vessels with crews from countries with different cultural attitudes.

To improve the situation, Nautilus has been bringing up serious cases with the new Cadet Welfare Group to push regulators to improve the situation.

If you experience any kind of bullying or harassment, it is also a good idea to make a note of any incidents, including the time, date and the names of any witnesses, as well as anything you said to the bully or harasser and your emotional state (it is important to be clear about how someone's behaviour made you feel, so it can't be passed off as a joke).

However, the best thing you can do is contact Nautilus, as your trade union. We can provide advice and support on your specific situation.

Bullying and harassment is a problem which rarely goes away by itself, so if you are being bullied or harassed, it is best to take action. However, sometimes this action (such as informing your training officer or the captain) does not resolve the situation. We'll be able to assist you if this occurs, and we can use our connections to bring in other authorities to help you.

Ask the expert – resitting courses

Q. What happens if I fail my UK courses? Can I resit them?

A. The short answer is yes. You can resit some or all of your courses. However, SMarT funding is not available for repeated phases. That means that, unless your sponsoring employer will pay for you to repeat phases without SMarT funding, you will have to self-fund your training, which can run into thousands of pounds.

You may also be able to resit particular exams. You might be asked to pay an additional administration fee for this, although many colleges will allow you one or more resits free of charge before they require additional funds.

Source: MGN455



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