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UK Chamber of Shipping – Government must act to protect shipping jobs

Joint Statement by RMT, Nautilus International and the UK Chamber of Shipping

As organisations representing the interests of seafarers and employers in the shipping industry, we are united in our determination to protect the national interest from the economic impact of the COVID-19 emergency.

Our members must be empowered by Government, urgently, to perform the shipping industry’s key logistical role in keeping the UK supplied with the food, medicine, fuel and equipment required to sustain people and businesses during this period of unprecedented national and international emergency.

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. Alongside the welcome government support announced yesterday 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.

The collapse in passenger demand in particular is expected to last for the foreseeable future as countries attempt to ride out the COVID-19 storm. We believe that Government has a central role to play in backing our seafarers and business throughout this profoundly difficult time and we stand ready to continue the work with Government to agree an effective package of measures to achieve this.

As such, we call on the UK Government and devolved administrations to exercise all the policy levers at their disposal to protect seafarer jobs and qualifications. 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.