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European elections – what's in it for maritime workers?

21 May 2019

The importance of seafarers having a voice in Europe on fair transport and social policy has been flagged ahead of the European elections taking place in the UK and Netherlands on 23 May 2019.

Dutch Labour party social democrat and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) since 2014 Agnes Jongerius said the job of MEPs within the EU is to stand up for workers in the same way as the Union represents members across its international boundaries.

'As a social democrat MEP, the core issues that drive me are standing up for workers' interests and helping to build a responsible social policy with each other in Europe, and ultimately, worldwide, which Nautilus International, as an international maritime trade union, is also doing every day for its members.'

The MEP – who chairs the EU committee on employment and social affairs and is a former president of Dutch union FNV – spoke exclusively to Nautilus after a Dutch FNV-hosted European election debate.

The election debate held by the Dutch union FNV

International trade union solidarity remains 'desperately needed, to stand up for good working conditions and to jointly campaign against social dumping in the European transport sectors', she said, adding it was good to see that fair transport issues, at sea and within inland waterways, and the river cruise industry was being tackled by Nautilus within the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF).

Ms Jongerius said that the European Parliament has recently made several important decisions in achieving 'equal pay for equal work'.

National states, including the Netherlands, will now include these decisions in their legislation, which means it can be enforced at national level.

The European Union is also a world leader in emissions regulations and provides generous subsidies for innovations for a cleaner European shipping industry.

The European Parliament recently launched an informative podcast for European seafarer voters. 'What Europe does for Seafarers' points out that EU legislation covers the working conditions, health and safety and social protection of crews flying a European flag. The EU also helps to ensure that crews are properly trained - a role essential for safety at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson encouraged members to use their democratic voice and take part in the EU elections: 'If you care about your rights as maritime professionals and want to ensure the maritime industry will be protected for jobs, training opportunities and protecting the marine environment, then please vote. The UK may be leaving the EU, but we are not leaving Europe and as such we need to ensure that our members interests are protected here and in Europe and wherever they live and work.'

The world's second biggest democratic vote – the biggest being in India also this week – will bring people of 28 European countries to elect their representatives in the European Parliament for the next five years.

The UK is taking part because it is yet to formalise a withdrawal agreement from the European Union.


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