Marcel van den Broek: hearing from all parts of the Union
7 March 2023
Nautilus deputy general secretary Marcel van den Broek on the importance of taking part in digital forums to hear from all members in the Union.
In the days when all meetings of our Professional and Technical Forum were in person, we used to rotate the location so people from different places could come along. It meant that we often met new people at meetings, and we had a good turnout of Dutch members when we held the meeting in Rotterdam.
Now that our Forum meetings are online – using Microsoft Teams – the numbers attending are higher than ever, and it's fantastic to see people joining us from onboard their ships. But we want to hear more from our members in the Netherlands branch, who often have very valuable insights from certain sectors and education systems.
Will you join us at the next Professional and Technical Forum on 4 April 2023? It's a great opportunity to hear about developments in maritime technology, safety, regulations and education, meet fellow members, ask questions and contribute your expertise. You can sign up in the Events section of the Nautilus website or just look out for your email invitation.
In accordance with its international obligations, the UK has been implementing the provisions of the 2017 and 2018 STCW amendments into domestic law. This has resulted in numerous changes to M-notices. To find out which M-notices are affected, carry out the following steps:
Nautilus members have been raising issues on topics such as onboard safety and seafarer education via our Professional and Technical Forum, and by getting in touch with Union officials. Here's what has been raised, what's happening and what advice we can currently give.
What's happening to resolve the delays on the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency issuing Notices of Eligibility and setting dates for oral exams? Nautilus has been working closely with the MCA on this and – as reported in the last Nautilus Telegraph – additional oral exam sittings were offered in January and February this year. A multi-step plan is now in place to address the backlog and ensure that there is sufficient capacity in future to ensure candidates can book an exam slot in good time.
Members also identified a problem with the online booking system, because the 'first come, first served' system was unfair to those away at sea. It is anticipated that once the current backlog is cleared, there should be less competition for the available slots. Additionally, a new system has been proposed that will simplify the entire application process.
How is the mutual recognition of certificates going, post-Brexit, between the UK and individual EU member states? There's information about this in our Brexit feature on pages 34-37. Although the issue is largely resolved, some challenges remain with recognition of certain UK-issued limited certificates. Nautilus continues to work with the MCA on this and regularly raises specific issues on behalf of members.
When P&O Ferries sacked its experienced UK staff in order to replace them with agency crew, Nautilus expressed concerns about safety. I believe that these safety issues remain: what should I do? As a Nautilus member, you can get in touch with the Union and talk to your industrial organiser. You can also report specific safety concerns or near misses in confidence to CHIRP at www.chirp.co.uk/maritime, or to the MAIB.
I'm concerned that UK training management agencies aren't doing right by their cadets, particularly in finding them jobs. Can Nautilus help? Nautilus has set up a working group to address the quality of the cadet sea time experience, chaired by head of professional and technical David Appleton. The group has representatives from the MCA, the Merchant Navy Training Board and the training management agencies.
What is Nautilus's position on the planned withdrawal of paper navigational charts by the UK Hydrographic Office? Nautilus has taken part in the consultations on this and takes the view that the vast majority of merchant ships are already using type-approved ECDIS systems as their primary means of navigation, so are unlikely to be affected by the announcement.
Questions remain as to how the transition will be managed for the remaining commercial and leisure users who are currently using paper charts or non-type approved electronic systems. Having originally set a date of 2026 to complete the withdrawal of paper charts, UKHO is addressing some concerns raised in the consultation process and has now pushed the end date back to 2030.