COVID-19: Plea for UK government to support seafarers

Westminster Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, London, England. Credit: John Keeble/Getty Images

In the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Nautilus International, RMT, and the UK Chamber of Shipping have issued a statement demanding that the UK government empower seafarers to maintain the shipping industry’s pivotal role in keeping the UK supplied with food, medicine, fuel, and equipment.

Representing the interests of seafarers and employers in the shipping industry, the trio of organisations believe that the government has a central role to play in backing the industry’s seafarers and business throughout this difficult time. They have also communicated through the issuing of an official statement that they will stand ready to work with the government to agree an effective package of measures to resolve the crisis.

In the statement, the organisations call on the UK government and devolved administrations to exercise all the policy levers at their disposal to protect seafarers’ jobs and qualifications. The statement stressed that seafarers will always be needed to make the global economy work for the national interest and the maritime skills base will be even more important once we emerge from the other side of this global pandemic.

The organisations have requested that as a priority, the diverse range of onshore and onboard skills required to operate merchant vessels from the UK ports network must be protected from long-term damage.

Together with the government support announced for the payment of wages and company sick pay, the preservation of jobs and skills particularly for seafarers and other key workers affected by COVID-19 must now be the focus of joint industry and government action.