Maritime professionals’ trade union, Nautilus International, has warned the decision by Maersk to take its remaining vessels off the UK Ship Register, exit the UK Tonnage Tax and end the training of UK Cadets, will have a serious impact on seafarer jobs and the stability of the UK industry.
Europe’s largest shipping line is following in the footsteps of P&O, which last week announced it was reflagging all of its vessels to Cyprus due to Brexit uncertainty and the desire for its ships to be flagged in an EU member state.
Maersk has confirmed it will stop taking in Cadets from the UK, following a decrease in demand for Junior Officers, as it moves to a different manning structure and model.
Whilst all current cadets will have their training completed to allow them to gain their Certificate of Competence, the news adds to the pressure on the future for UK seafarers, already under threat as the nation moves closer to its exit from the EU – due on March 29.
Over a number of years, the UK’s shipping industry has suffered a huge drop in UK seafarers - from more than 66,000 in 1977 to just 23,000 today. Nautilus is warning that the continuing decline in the number of British seafarers and UK-flagged vessels is putting the nation’s economic security at risk and could leave it dependent on other countries for many essential goods and services.
Nautilus general secretary, Mark Dickinson, said: “The news coming out of Maersk is deeply concerning for the future of the UK maritime industry, especially in light of the recent announcement from P&O and rumours that CMA-CGM is also set to leave the UK register.
“Brexit has already put UK seafarer certificates at risk and the ongoing uncertainty is forcing the hand of large businesses - it has created a perfect storm, threatening the current and future employment of UK-based workers.
“As an island nation, we rely on shipping and seafarers for 95% of everything we consume, and our workers need support to ensure they have training opportunities, decent jobs and career progression. These developments are only serving to make us more dependent on other countries.
“We will offer support to the Cadets affected by Maersk’s discontinuation of its programme, but on a wider level, there needs to be a step-change from government and industry to curb this worrying decline. Assurances are needed that commitments already made to supporting the SMarT Plus initiative (Support for Maritime Training) – which aims to support Cadets moving into Officer employment - won’t be affected by these developments.”
Nautilus’s ongoing Charter for Jobs campaign continues to encourage maritime organisations and the UK government to work together in delivering decent work for British seafarers, in the interests of the nation’s strategic and economic needs.