Nautilus International, a maritime professionals’ trade union, has warned that Maersk’s decision to remove its remaining vessels from the UK Ship Register will seriously impact the country’s maritime sector.
In January 2019, shipping company P&O also announced that it would reflag its fleet of short sea vessels to EU member state Cyprus amidst Brexit uncertainty.
In addition to reflagging its vessels, Maersk has confirmed that it will stop admitting cadets from the UK, following a decrease in demand for Junior Officers and the implementation of a new manning structure.
Although the current group of cadets will have the chance to complete their training and receive a “Certificate of Competence”, the end of Maersk’s training scheme creates further uncertainty for the future of seafarers in the UK.
The country’s shipping industry has already witnessed a significant drop in seafarer numbers, from over 66,000 in 1977 to just 23,000 in 2018.
A statement from Nautilus has asserted that the declining number of maritime professionals and UK-flagged vessels could present an economic risk, as it would leave the UK much more dependent on other countries for vital goods and services.
Mark Dickinson, Nautilus General Secretary, 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.”
The Charter for Jobs campaign has been launched by Nautilus to encourage maritime organisations and the UK government to work together in delivering decent work for UK seafarers who are employed today.