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Maritime workers and boatmen in Nautilus International's Switzerland branch have now been supported by the Union for a decade. Deborah McPherson reports
Nautilus International's Switzerland branch can take pride in several key achievements as it reaches a milestone 10-year anniversary of federation.
Under an agreement with the Basel-based Unia union, around 800 Swiss maritime workers were transferred to Nautilus International — in the process, creating a Nautilus Swiss branch and national committee.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'Many of the issues affecting members in the deepsea fleets are painfully familiar to those working on Switzerland's inland navigation vessels. Long hours, living and working conditions, training standards and the threat from low-cost foreign crews are having a huge and ongoing impact.'
Nautilus International Switzerland branch president Marcel van den Broek said of the federation: 'It was the perfect end to an intense period of very constructive discussions with Unia and the perfect beginning of a new Nautilus branch.'
The launch of Nautilus International in Switzerland was part of a plan conceived in 2000 to unite maritime professionals in a single cross-border trade union. That agreement was significant because it increased the Union's level of involvement in representing maritime professionals serving on European inland waterways, where it was already the largest inland navigation union in western Europe.
Nautilus national organiser for Switzerland Holger Schatz said the merger of Unia inland navigation to Nautilus International has led to a better 'understanding in Europe and everywhere in the world that there is shipping in Switzerland'.
The branch has built a fine reputation as a 'centre for competencies' in inland navigation, including river cruise, he adds. Its work protecting members in tribunal cases on their behalf has also been very effective.