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Welcome to 2023. We have a lot to look forward to this year. In October members will gather in Liverpool for the fourth General Meeting of Nautilus International, to review and renew our strategic priorities for the coming four-year cycle and to cement the future direction of the Union. In 2022 I presented a mid-term report on our progress to the Council, and members can see my report by logging into My Nautilus.
Over the past four years we have been working hard to future proof the Union through our 2030 Vision. The goal of that vision is to achieve longterm financial sustainability. Part of that vision is to explore a digital future. To create an ever-greater digital experience for our members of the future.
The 2030 Vision has a strong emphasis on internationalism – an important focus given the global nature of our industry and our three branches, the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland. But it also resonates with our work with likeminded unions in the Nautilus Federation.
It provides a commitment to organise, campaign and deliver innovative services and benefits to members, and continue to provide high quality welfare services to seafarers and their dependants.
A union is only as solid as its members, so I am pleased to see a strong line-up of nominees for the Council elections. Becoming a member of the Council provides an opportunity for you to get involved and help build the future of Nautilus International.
Voting opens in the category requiring an election at the end of January so look out for your elections pack in the post (yes I know it's old fashioned postal ballots but that's the law in the UK so we have to do it).
P&O Ferries one year on
One year on from the scandal of P&O Ferries' unlawful sacking of 786 UK seafarers and it feels very much as if little has changed in labour relations in the UK. The government brought forward legislation to allow agency workers to be hired to break strikes. Further restrictions on the right to strike are now being promised to limit a trade union's ability to take industrial action – especially in the transport sector, with so called minimum service obligations being strongly mooted.
Since that fateful day on 17 March 2022, we have been working hard to ensure the UK government delivers on its nine point plan. The Seafarers' Wages Bill, currently progressing through the houses of parliament, seeks to prevent another P&O Ferries from ever happening again.
The bill needs to be strengthened, but importantly, it won't solve the underlying problem of social dumping in UK and European waters unless commensurate action is taken to deliver the promised bilateral minimum wage corridors with neighbouring countries. The most important of these is with France and we are working with the French seafarer unions to deliver that goal.
We have long been warning governments and the shipping industry of the need for a sustainable approach to maritime skills that serves national and European strategic interests. An approach that drives employment, investment in training, career opportunities and decent living and working conditions for European seafarers.
P&O Ferries and other rogue employers may think they got away with it, but there is still much to fight for and we intend to keep up the pressure.