Nautilus has welcomed proposals to launch a new ferry service in the Channel Islands – but urged authorities in Jersey and Guernsey to ensure that it creates jobs and training opportunities for UK seafarers.
The governments of the two islands have issued a request for 'expressions of interest' to operate a passenger-only service 'in 2018 and beyond'. A formal specification for the service has not been issued yet, but there is an indication that it will receive financial assistance.
In a letter to political leaders in the two islands, Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said the Union supports the objectives of enhancing inter-island connectivity and boosting the local economy through additional passenger traffic.
However, he urged the authorities to ensure that the tender for the service includes a further objective to increase employment and training of local seafarers.
By linking support to local crewing requirements as an objective in the tender, the States of Jersey and Guernsey would gain added value from having seafarers who can provide service cover at short notice, with minimal employee travel costs to and from vessels and good knowledge of local waters. Nautilus general secretary, Mark Dickinson
Nautilus also believes that it would be 'entirely appropriate for seafarers serving on such inter-island services to be covered by strict controls on pay and working conditions,' added Mr Dickinson. 'The UK industry has witnessed the increasingly damaging effects of unfair competition caused by "lowest common denominator" crewing policies in the ferry sector and we believe it is important to prevent globalised labour conditions in essentially domestic services.'
The Union emphasised that the European Union's state aid guidelines also seek to deliver such objectives and permit states to offer reduced rates of income tax and social security contributions for Community seafarers employed onboard member state-registered vessels.
Setting such safeguards in the tender would enhance the economic objectives of the support and would also deliver long-term benefits for the safe and efficient operation of the services and the wider local maritime infrastructure, Mr Dickinson said.