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Nautilus general election manifesto - Turning the Tide: a Mission to Revitalise Our Nation's Maritime Sector

24 May 2024

Ahead of the 2024 general election, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson presents the Union's manifesto, which offers an incoming government the tools to improve Britain's security in a changing world, boost industry, create jobs in our coastal communities, and ensure a bright future for maritime professionals

On Wednesday 22 May, the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the date for the general election, which will take place on Thursday 4 July 2024.

As UK’s largest maritime union, Nautilus International has been preparing for this announcement and we are pleased to publish our manifesto for the 2024 general election, Turning the Tide: A mission to revitalise our nation’s maritime sector.

The UK has a proud maritime history, but we are failing to live up to legacy of our past. This is evident from one basic fact: the number of UK resident seafarers and number of UK flagged vessels are at an historic low.

This decline was typified by the actions of P&O Ferries on 17 March 2022, sacking almost its entire UK-resident workforce and replacing them with exploited crew from abroad. The actions of P&O Ferries were scandalous, but the sum total of these actions are not new and an incoming government must learn the lessons and end this race to the bottom.

With rising geo-political precarity, the decline in the UK merchant navy also presents a significant risk to the UK. with a weakened Merchant Navy hampering our ability to secure vital supply chains for food, fuel and trade in the event of escalating global conflict. The incoming UK government must consider investment in our maritime industry as investment in our national security and resilience.

Our manifesto is a detailed policy proposal that charts a course for an incoming government to turn this tide and support our maritime industry and our nation’s seafarers.

The manifesto is broken into four key sections:

Future proof skills and training: our maritime professionals deserve world-class training. We are calling for increased funding for maritime education, cadetships, apprenticeships, and career development.

Full protection for maritime employment: we need robust employment protections, fair wages, and decent working conditions, to stop the race to the bottom in terms and conditions, especially in UK and adjacent waters. They deserve at least the same protections as UK workers ashore.

Create a stronger UK shipping industry domestically and internationally: our maritime professionals protect the national interest. The incoming government must deliver an action plan for the growth of the UK flag, support jobs and training in strategic sectors like offshore renewables. and consider the scope for cabotage in UK waters and with our neighbours. 

Ensure continued international leadership on social and employment rights: the UK must continue to lead internationally on social and employment rights for seafarers. Building on its recognition of seafarers as key workers during the pandemic, we need to go further by supporting the continuous improvement in global minimum standards, ratifying the International Labour Organization (ILO) convention on Seafarers Identity Documents (C185), and pushing for a global review of ship registration practices to ensure effective control is exercised over all shipping through the enforcement of the ‘genuine link’ required under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

You can look at all of our policies in more detail in the manifesto.

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Nautilus manifesto

Click here to read Turning the Tide: A Mission to Revitalise Our Nation's Maritime Sector


This election, if polls are to be believed, will see a change of government for the first time in 14 years, but irrespective of who forms the next government it must usher in a new era for our maritime industry. Our manifesto offers an incoming government a roadmap for revitalisation and we will be seeking support from all political parties, standing ready to work with whoever forms the next government to reclaim our position as a pre-eminent maritime nation.

If you want to reach out to candidates in your constituency and ask them for support for the maritime industry, please reach out to Nautilus communications and campaigns organiser Robert Murtagh on

Nautilus General Election 2024 manifesto webinars

In the lead up to the UK General Election, Nautilus set out its stall for the key maritime reforms it believes any incoming government needs to commit to, in a two-part webinar series. If you missed out on attending, you can hit play to watch these below.


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