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Nautilus forums are the place to talk about your workplace and industry issues with fellow members. The forums help to set the Union’s policy agenda, and their work has led to major changes in the maritime industry. Rob Coston reports
Have you struggled to make your voice heard about specific challenges you face at work? Are you concerned about safety in enclosed spaces, or critical of inadequate regulations? Would you like to make sure everyone has access to good work in maritime, or change training and education for the better?
Nautilus forums give you the opportunity to share expertise with fellow maritime professionals and come up with solutions to some of the thorniest issues in the industry.
The forums cover different areas of maritime life and the Union’s work, and they are open to all members of the Union from the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland branches. They provide guidance to the Nautilus Council on all these issues.
Meetings take place regularly online, with occasional in-person get togethers. You can choose to attend every time or visit when a topic that is important to you is scheduled for discussion.
Professional and Technical Forum
The Professional & Technical (P&T) Forum deals with a wide range of technical, safety, welfare and other professional topics of relevance to all members, including training and certification. The forum meets several times a year online, and is well attended – usually there are 30-40 members at each meeting.
In late 2022, members at the P&T Forum alerted Nautilus to an issue with the UK chief mate stability exam. Historically, 60%-70% of candidates passed this exam in the UK, but the pass rate plummeted to 14% at its lowest.
Nautilus got in touch with the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) on behalf of members; as a result, the MCA reviewed the questions and found that some could be interpreted in multiple ways, meaning that candidates were wasting time on the wrong areas in the exam and gaining no marks. The MCA has now clarified and reduced the number of questions, and shortened the exam time to give candidates a better opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge.
At recent P&T Forum meetings, members have discussed the areas they would like to see included in the current review of the STCW Convention by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Issues raised included whether seafarers should be expected to pay for new mandatory training, and the need for safety training for gas cargoes and new fuels.
Nautilus is involved with the STCW review as an affiliate of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA). Issues raised by Nautilus members at the forum have been taken directly to the IMO and fed into the review.
Read more in the March/April 2023 edition of the Telegraph, or at bit.ly/STCW_review
The P&T Forum is also feeding into Nautilus’s Just Transition policy on new fuels, automation, training, and safety.
Equality and Diversity Forum
The Equality and Diversity Forum was launched at the Union's General Meeting in Rotterdam in October 2019. It holds meetings for all members interested in promoting an inclusive workplace and acts as an umbrella for breakout groups focused on young members, women members and LGBT+ members.
For example, the Women's Forum offers an opportunity for female members to discuss maritime careers for women and their organising needs, while Young Maritime Professionals (YMP) is a place for members aged 35 and under to engage in discussions on the specific challenges facing young workers in the maritime profession.
LGBT+ members and their allies attend the third breakout group, which looks at support issues and visibility in the industry. There is at present no group for BAME members (black, asian and minority ethnic), but if any member would like to establish one, this would be warmly welcomed: please contact Danny McGowan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meetings of the Equality and Diversity Forum are held three times a year online or in a hybrid format (where some attendees are together in a room and others join online). The sessions for the breakout groups – Women, LGBT+ and YMP – are held before or after the main meeting and are considered a safe space for members to talk freely with others in a similar position.
Achievements and future focus
The Women's Forum's work on tackling workplace bullying and harassment led to the creation of the Nautilus Protect and Respect guide and fed into anti-bullying policies adopted by maritime employers across Europe.
The LGBT+ Forum has been important in increasing the visibility of LGBT+ members in the industry and showing the Union’s public support – for example, by organising an annual Nautilus delegation to the Pride in London march. It also played an essential role in the establishment of Pride in Maritime Day, the second of which was celebrated on 28 February this year.
YMP has played an important part in lobbying for the current review of cadet training, sponsorship bursary payments, and funding support from government for trainees. It also informs TUC Young Workers interactions and collaborations with the youth sections of the ITF and ETF, and is a helpful place for young members to find further opportunities to engage with the Union and to increase their skills for seeking broader employment and development opportunities.
The agenda of YMP is set by members, but in future it is likely to focus on Just Transition, future skills and improving life at sea.