New figures show that Nautilus International has seen a surge in membership since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, as maritime professionals seek security against a backdrop of increased job uncertainty, redundancy and the threat of a severe recession.
Nearly 2,000 new members joined between January and September.
Union membership, which was already rising, has grown further across all branches this year in a sign that seafarers will look to Nautilus for assistance and advice in times of uncertainty.
However, the Union stresses the importance for people to remember that they must join in advance of an issue occurring in order to be able to access the full range of benefits and protections.
'The support of a strong trade union is especially important at times of uncertainty,' Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said. 'It may be a cliché, but nonetheless true, we are stronger together and we certainly need to be strong now. It is pleasing therefore that our membership is growing with hundreds of maritime professionals recognising the need for a strong union with a unique range of services and benefits.'
Strong growth among maritime professionals was complemented by a continuation of the Union's success in recruiting from the superyacht sector. Around half of all new members work in the superyacht sector, more than any other sector.
Over the past four years, the Union has seen a 350% increase in large yacht membership and retention.
There was also significant membership growth among officers, ratings and cadets.
In common with all trade unions, Nautilus faces the structural challenge of ageing demographics and appealing to younger maritime professionals who still have most of their working lives in front of them. These latest figures show that the Union is rising to the challenge by supplementing growth in traditional membership areas and strong cadet recruitment with expansion into new and growing maritime sectors.
These encouraging figures also demonstrate clearly the importance and relevance of union membership and are a testament to the hard work of Nautilus organisers in supporting maritime professionals through unprecedented times.
The news follows reports of buoyant trade union membership across the board in the UK reversing successive years of decline. Unions reported a net increase of 91,000 over the last year and an increase of over 200,000 since 2017, according to the TUC. Some 6.4m people are now members of trade unions, up from a record low of 6.2m in 2016, covering 23.5% of the workforce – also slightly up on previous years.
This year's increase in total membership of UK trade unions was driven by women workers with more than 170,000 joining a trade union. There are now 3.7m female trade union members in the UK, the highest since the data series began in 1995.
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