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Make your voice heard: how Nautilus and its members can overcome the inflation crisis

7 March 2022

The participation of our members is key to securing better pay and conditions, writes Nautilus International executive officer Martyn Gray


Martyn Gray, Nautilus International

As inflation surges, many people are looking to Nautilus International to defend the value of their salary.

Nautilus regularly works with companies where we hold collective bargaining rights on the issues faced by our members. In recent times these discussions have focused on workloads, pensions, minimising the impact of Covid-19 restrictions, and, of course, the increasing cost of living.

In uncertain times many companies will be considering whether to follow the economic wisdom of persons such as Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, who claimed in recent interviews that restricting wage growth is vital for keeping a grip on inflation.

Employers in both the private and public sector appear to be heeding his call, even as inflation continues to outpace wage growth and despite more than a decade of real-terms wage reduction.  

What we are doing

In this climate, some Nautilus members occasionally comment to us that they believe our efforts as a union are not enough, and even start to question the benefit of membership.

Yet the fact is that maritime professionals need to be with Nautilus now more than ever.

As the world lurches from a public health crisis into geopolitical instability and a cost-of-living crisis unseen since last century, Nautilus supports our members both industrially and legally, and continues to defend and enforce the rights of those we represent. We campaign globally, nationally and locally for the best possible outcomes for maritime professionals.

For some members we are able to go further and engage with companies in reviewing pay and conditions. In doing so, we strive for pay uplifts that are reflective of cost-of-living pressures, productivity increases, profitability gains and changes to ways of working.

Our members have consistently performed throughout the pandemic and are continuing to perform despite current challenges. During negotiations, Nautilus is making clear that wage stagnation is not a sustainable approach for companies that experience large profits/revenue increases.

The fact is that maritime professionals need to be with Nautilus now more than ever Martyn Gray, Nautilus International executive officer

Your support is key

However, member engagement is essential to success.

Draconian legislation governs trade union relations in the United Kingdom, and a large turnout in a consultation exercise is needed to demonstrate to an employer that their workers have strong feelings about a pay offer.

Nautilus needs as many of our members at an employer as possible to participate in each stage of the pay review process, but too often we see low engagement. A union's strength is its membership; we need you.

Nautilus has been securing improvements to pay and conditions. In places, we have achieved industry-leading uplifts and improvements to working conditions. This has been accomplished, in particular, at companies where we have a large density of membership and high levels of engagement.

Nautilus supports our members both industrially and legally, and continues to defend and enforce the rights of those we represent. Image: Sean Gladwell/Getty Images

Whilst correlation does not always equal causation, it is difficult to ignore that active memberships tend to get better outcomes.

As such, we need to have your input and support on the actions we take. The consultation process allows for us to see if further action would be supported, if further talks would be tolerated, and if the membership with a particular employer believes the offer made represents the best that they will get. The only winner when members don't participate is the employer, who will think quite incorrectly that members who don't participate don't care.

Now, therefore, is the time to make a difference in your workplace. If you are at a company that has a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with Nautilus, please participate in aspiration and consultation exercises and have your say. Speak with colleagues who benefit from the efforts of your Union and get them to join and stand with us in defence of their rights and in support of fair pay.

Even if you are not covered by a CBA, speak with colleagues and explain the legal and industrial support available through membership. We have arranged for new recognition agreements at companies where we have growing membership levels and the more members we have, the better our opportunity to start representing your interests.

Our work on fair pay at sea will always continue, and we are standing in solidarity with the TUC in its 'Britain needs a pay rise' campaign. In times like these we must come together in support of the principle that a fair day's work deserves a fair day's pay.

We urge you to do the same: to speak with non-member colleagues and participate in consultation and aspiration processes. We speak with the voice of our members and the more that you talk, the louder we can be.


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