Retention of Maritime Skills

Without permanent employment for domiciled seafarers maritime skills, will simply disappear.

National Cabotage has been one of the main tools where national governments have regulated their domestic waters from the full effects of global competition. This is to ensure that at least certain domestic trades are not conducted purely on the basis of lowest labour cost, and minimum standards are protected.

Many of these safeguards for seafarers are now under threat, both from national governments and proposed international trade treaties which are now threatening to effectively eliminate cabotage in the US and Canada.

Member states of the European Union have already witnessed the impact of the free movement of trade and many other countries around the world are promoting increasing free trade in domestic waters for maritime services. European shipowners have been prominent in lobbying for complete liberalisation.

However many countries depend on the sea for their trade and require maritime skills and experience to regulate shipping and safeguard their own strategic interests as maritime nations. The benefits of clustering maritime knowledge bring added economic value to a country with significant extra revenue from trade in the wider maritime sector on shore, in addition to the obvious employment benefits for home national seafarers.

The Seafarers’ Section has produced a toolkit for the Retention of Maritime Skills. The toolkit is an aid for affiliates campaigning for the recruitment and retention of their own national seafarers.

It contains the following:

  • A number of key arguments that can be deployed when affiliates are in dialogue with national administrations, including advice on how to beat the likely arguments advanced by the shipowners
  • A number of examples of good practice for retaining national skills from around the world, including countries where ITF affiliates have played a leading role in achieving change
  • A presentation that outlines how a national campaign can be run with advice on practical steps
  • A further presentation on the role the ITF can play in supporting affiliates
  • A series of template letters and press materials that can assist when working through the national campaign plan
  • A Maritime Union of Australia and ITF document on Maritime Cabotage around the world, and recommended campaign tools

The resources can be found at the following links:

Affiliates of the ITF have recently met to consider the threats posed by the latest moves towards liberalisation in the shipping industry. As a result of this meeting it has been decided to set up National Cabotage Task Force which will be responsible for running a campaign highlighting the dangers posed by the international trade treaties.

The Task Force will also advise affiliates on national campaigning to defend minimum standards and secure long term employment in their shipping industries.

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