Archives of regular monthly message from Nautilus general secretary, also published in each edition of the Telegraph on the Welcome page.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson reﬂects on the dismaying news from Maersk and other major maritime employers leaving the UK…
February’s big story was the announcement that Maersk was ending its relationship with the UK. No more British ofﬁcer trainees and no jobs for British junior ofﬁcers upon completion of their training. A very sad reﬂection on the current state of affairs.
Having been one of the ﬁrst to join the UK tonnage tax when it was launched in 2000, Maersk had at one point expanded to become the single biggest UK ﬂag operator – and it trained large numbers of British cadets as a result.
Maersk was also a signiﬁcant operator and employer in the Netherlands, having acquired P&O Nedlloyd in 2005. However, it soon started offering inducements for Dutch seafarers to leave. Shore-based operations were reduced to almost nothing, and Dutch ofﬁcers were offered promotion only upon signing Danish contracts. It is only a matter of time before Maersk exits the Netherlands altogether.
The signiﬁcance of this latest Maersk announcement cannot be underestimated. Back in 2008, Maersk approached Nautilus about the need for more government support to address the rising costs of training cadets and the gap between UK employment costs and manning models from southeast Asia. The company was very clear that without government intervention it would be forced to look elsewhere.
Galvanised by these stark warnings from the world’s biggest shipowner, we agreed to work together to develop a joint industry offer to the UK government. We hoped this would lead to more training and job security for our members in return for more government support for the shipping industry. This led to a positive meeting with the then prime minister, Gordon Brown.
Unfortunately, a general election and change of government followed in early 2010. But we didn’t give up, and together as an industry we worked hard to make the economic case for more support for jobs and training. Ten years on from that initial Maersk contact we ﬁnally secured an extra £15m for SMarT. However, in the meantime, a decade of perceived government inaction doubtless impacted on Maersk’s future strategy, and its allegiances now lie elsewhere – notably in Denmark and India.
Flagging out does not necessarily threaten current employment, but it does drive a stake into the heart of a maritime nation’s ambitions Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson