Certificates of Equivalent Competency campaign

CEC post card campaign launch

We’re calling for a review into the CEC System to protect UK jobs.

Latest figures show that the number of UK seafarers has reduced by nearly 4,000 over the past ten years. Compared with nearly 11,000 non-UK seafarers with Certificate of Equivalent Competency serving on British ships, it’s not hard to see there’s an issue somewhere in the system. In order to work aboard a UK-flagged vessel, non-UK Officers are required to hold a Certificate of Equivalent Competency (CECs) issued by the MCA, which allows them to work onboard a British vessel. However, this is often at the expense of suitable conditions and lower wages for workers.

Believing that this current system for issuing CECs isn’t adequately controlled and government complacency on the issue is putting our seafarers at a disadvantage, we launched the next phase of activity for our Charter for Jobs, calling for a review of the system.

What the campaign is about

The campaign seeks to mobilise MPs into calling for a review of the system which grants the certificates, emphasising the number of unemployed British officers with an MCA Certificate of Competency and the nature of the UK’s employment needs once it exits the European Union.

By raising awareness of the issue, the campaign seeks to challenge the creation of a pool of cheaper labour against which UK-resident seafarers struggle to compete.

What we have achieved so far

CEC Postcard

In order to raise awareness of the issues faced, Nautilus produced and issued campaign postcards for all members, which were then sent to each of their parliamentary representatives, outlining the key challenges faced by UK-resident seafarers from the CEC issuing process and calling on them to support the campaign in the halls of Westminster.

Send your MP our CEC postcard Nautilus CEC postcard to MPs

In April 2017, we successfully lobbied MPs to raise the issue in parliament which led to SNP spokesperson Alex Salmon, former MP for Gordon, pressing the Minister of State for Transport, John Hayes in Parliament to stem the flow of job losses amongst British Merchant Navy officers.


In addition to the physical postcards, and keen to move the conversation online, we are extending the campaign to social media. We’re asking MPs on Twitter what they know about UK-resident seafarer unemployment, sending them the GIF and calling on their support in parliament.

Next steps

The first stage of the CEC campaign sought to inform members of parliament about the issues facing UK-resident seafarers and the alarming reduction in employment figures. With around 2,000 UK seafaring jobs lost in 2015 and 2016 due to the downturn in oil price alone, we’re looking to further emphasise the harsh reality of British seafarer unemployment in the country.

Having raised awareness of the problems caused by the CEC process, the Union is calling on MPs to put more pressure on the Government to push for a review into the system which grants the certificates.

To get involved and join our campaign, send a postcard or Tweet your MP today to let everyone know you're supporting our seafarers!