Maritime trade union Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson has written to John Hayes, the minister responsible for maritime affairs, urging the Conservative Government to protect a “vital industry from shameful employment practices that undermine common decency and basic international minimum standards”.
It comes after Maersk Supply Service blamed “unprecedented market conditions” and the “new oil reality” for the decision to cut 400 jobs and cull its offshore fleet by up to 20 vessels within 18 months. The AP Moller-Maersk subsidiary has begun consultations with Nautilus over redundancies.
“I have written to the shipping minister today to call for urgent action to defend this island nation’s maritime skills base and what remains of its shipping industry,” Dickinson said.
“This dreadful news is the latest in an increasingly long line of jobs losses and cuts in conditions in the North Sea. The scale of the cuts is having a drastic effect upon the employment and training of British seafarers and is threatening to sink the government’s Maritime Growth Study aims of regenerating the UK shipping industry.”
Maersk Supply Service ceo Jørn Madsen said a key decision to cull the company’s fleet was to “restore the supply demand balance in the offshore supply market”. The consequence affects 27% of the Denmark-based company’s workforce.
“At the same time as decent companies are being forced to lay-up ships and get rid of highly skilled and experienced seafarers, they are being undercut by unfair competition from flag of convenience ships with exploited foreign crews,“ Dickinson said.
“The ongoing scandal of the sisterships Malaviya Seven and Malaviya Twenty – which were detained in Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth when it was discovered that their crews were owed months of wages – is just one of many examples of the unacceptable practices taking place in the sector.
“We cannot understand why vessels can operate so freely on the UK Continental Shelf. These are not isolated cases: other offshore support vessels have been found with seafarers being paid as little as US$3 an hour and crew members being owed substantial levels of back-pay.
“It’s high time that the UK government followed other countries in protecting a vital industry from shameful employment practices that undermine common decency and basic international minimum standards.”
Nautilus International (formerly NUMAST) is the trade union and professional organisation for maritime professionals at sea and ashore. It represents 22,000 maritime professionals from ship masters to shore-based staff.