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Increasing income – how Nautilus and its registered charity help seafarers get better pay, benefits, discounts and grants

10 January 2023

Whether you've fallen on hard times or just want to save a bit of money, Nautilus has ways to boost your finances. Sarah Robinson reports

Trade unions have always been about supporting the wider community as well as their working-age members, and Nautilus is no exception. In this article, we look at how the Union works to put more money in seafarers' pockets.

Negotiating higher wages

Simply being a member of a union is known to improve your income, as you are likely to be better paid than a non-union member. In February 2022, the UK Trades Union Congress indicating that unionised workers are likely to be paid 5% more than non-unionised employees.

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady commented: 'If you're all in a union, your employer will have to sit down and negotiate a fair pay rise with you, but if you're not in a union, you have little bargaining power, and you lose out – big time.'

In the US, this 'union premium' is thought to be even higher. A June 2022 report by the found that: 'Unionized workers earn 10.2% more than their non-union peers, while also raising wages and benefits for all workers in their industry.'

So if you're not a Nautilus member and you work for a maritime employer, now is the time to join and lend your support to the members and staff in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland who are fighting for better pay in the current cost of living crisis.

Even if there is no collective bargaining agreement at your workplace, your membership could save you money in the event of a maritime incident, through certificate protection and funding for legal support. Nautilus also regularly wins compensation for members whose work has left them with an injury or illness – even when the cause of the ailment was some time ago, as in exposure to asbestos.

However, even union members can sometimes struggle financially, as can maritime professionals who have retired. Nautilus wants to help when this happens and has a number of ways to point members of the maritime community in the right direction.

Hardship support for serving seafarers

The first thing Nautilus members should do if they fall on hard times is contact the Union to get their membership category changed. If, for example, you have become unemployed, contact Nautilus and the Union will consider you for a significantly discounted membership rate until you are earning again. The email addresses to write to are in the UK, in the Netherlands and in Switzerland.

For help with accessing benefits and grants, Nautilus advises UK-based serving seafarers to contact SAIL – the Seafarers Advice and Information Line – which is the Citizens Advice service for anyone who has ever worked at sea. More information is available at

In the Netherlands, the Nautilus Rotterdam office can help members identify and claim government benefits and grants they are entitled to. If you are a Dutch member and would like this kind of support, please contact

In Switzerland, Nautilus manages a Swiss Seafarers' Solidarity Fund which can offer grants in cases of special hardship such as accidents at work. To contact the Switzerland branch about this, email

Hardship support for retired seafarers

The support Nautilus offers retired seafarers is particularly well-developed in the UK, through Nautilus Welfare – a registered charity also known as the Nautilus Welfare Fund.

Nautilus Welfare isn't just for Nautilus members: its services are available to any retired person in the UK who has had a substantial career at sea. The charity's Caseworker Service employs expert benefits and grants advisers to visit ex-seafarers around the UK free of charge – helping clients make applications to the government and maritime charities and bring in all the income they are entitled to. In 2022, the six caseworkers boosted clients' income by over £1m in total.

Nautilus Welfare also offers its own hardship grants to retired seafarers – for example to help with the cost of replacing broken 'white goods' such as a fridge or washing machine. There's more information about the Caseworker Service and the hardship grant scheme at: Spouses, widowed partners, children and other dependants of seafarers will also be considered for support.  

Saving money through Nautilus deals and discounts

Even if your finances are in reasonably good shape, it makes sense to manage your money carefully by paying less for goods and services. Nautilus members in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland all benefit from packages of deals and discounts tailored to the country where they are based.

To find out more, navigate to your national branch's pages via this website. You may need to log in as a member to see the full, up-to-date selection of deals, which can range from a will-making service to discounts on airport parking. Information emails are also sent round to members about some of the deals and discounts, and they are publicised in the Nautilus Telegraph magazine.


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