UK: Union urges gov’t to protect North Sea jobs

Trade union Nautilus International has called on all members, maritime professionals and their families to support to a call for the UK government to do more to back North Sea seafarers who are facing increased redundancies.

Nautilus represents more than 22,000 maritime professionals in the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) before Parliament calling for shipping companies to work with Nautilus to devise a strategy to support British seafarers facing redundancy.

Carmichael said he tabled the motion as falling oil prices and resulting redundancies in the North Sea are affecting local seafarers who have served the industry for many years.

“Marine recruitment companies are creating these problems,” he said. “They are advertising abroad for workers but neglecting to do so in the UK. The government can look into these practices and do more to strengthen the Merchant Shipping Act.

“We have seen the strength of the UK Merchant Navy come and go over the years,” he added. “It does best when the government takes its responsibilities seriously and engages with the industry — seamen and shipping companies. I want the government now to bring forward measures that will recognise the problem and do something about it.”

Nautilus is calling on members to contact their own MPs and ask them to add their name to EDM 1282 and urge the government to properly debate the issue.

General secretary Mark Dickinson congratulated Carmichael for raising the issue in Parliament and said that it was about time the government took the plight of British seafarers in the North Sea seriously.

“Seafarers who have worked in the North Sea for many years are losing their jobs and facing cuts in their terms and conditions because of short-term planning by oil and gas companies,” he said. “These seafarers are highly skilled individuals who understand the unique challenges involved with working in such difficult conditions.

“Replacing these people with seafarers from outside the EU, with no knowledge of the treacherous conditions facing them, will create long terms issues and put the safety of all North Sea workers at risk.

“I encourage all our members to urge their MPs to support Carmichael’s initiative and to call on the government to do more to support the employment of British seafarers in the UK offshore sector.”