Nautilus has called for active enforcement of international maritime regulations in the expanding superyacht industry.
Proposing a Nautilus motion at the TUC Congress, senior national secretary Garry Elliott said that whilst the sector offered attractive employment, there is evidence to show problems of bullying, harassment and insecurity – with many crews routinely denied the rights that shore-based staff would be entitled to.
A study by the Seafarers International Research Centre (SIRC) at Cardiff University found that 75% of crew were worried about job security, 94% had experienced work-related stress, and more than 40% had experienced bullying and harassment on an occasional, frequent or constant basis, he noted.
While salaries are pretty good – and often tax-free – many crew are not entitled to sick pay and only a fraction have pension contributions paid by their employers, Mr Elliott added. Working days of 10 to 14 hours are commonplace and many crew struggle to get adequate rest onboard their vessel.
There has been no shortage of horrendous accidents – and some cases where badly injured crew or the relatives of those who have been killed on superyachts have received no compensation, Mr Elliott added.
Some of these cases have highlighted a disturbing lack of accountability, compounded by the use of flags of convenience and complex contractual arrangements.
Mr Elliott told the meeting:
We need to ensure that the Maritime Labour Convention is applied, making sure that global standards for seafarers' working and living conditions, and requirements covering employment agreements, wages, hours of work and rest, leave, repatriation, and compensation, are extended to superyacht crew.
The UK has a special responsibility to ensure that the MLC standards are applied, given that two-thirds of the world's super yachts are under Red Ensign Group flags, he added.
Karlson Lingwood of RMT spoke in support of the motion: 'What this motion delivers is minimum standards. Accommodation, food, quality of food, health protection – things you take for granted on shore. We must support these young workers. It is a good opportunity for young workers to make their way in the world. Let's protect and respect them, ensure they enjoy their working lives.'
The motion was passed unanimously.