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much to the frustration of the UK Chamber, ratification in the UK has been stymied by Government insistence on subjecting all new proposals for regulation to intense scrutiny and assessment of their impact on business. It is a cruel irony that a policy designed to assist employers is delaying the introduction of measures to update and modernise legislation affecting seafarers – legislation that the UK Chamber and its members strongly support. Even if the Government ratifies before

August 2013, this delay will still cause serious problems for the UK shipping industry, because of the time needed to adjust practical arrangements to meet the implementation requirements and the UK’s inability to apply the convention until 12 months after that date (see also pages 10-11).

Safety first In parallel with its role in shaping regulation, the UK Chamber pursues its own initiatives to advance the safety and welfare of seafarers, in partnership with the UK’s maritime trade unions. These include the Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC), which issues recommendations to companies on means of reducing risks to seafarers in areas subject to war, piracy or other criminal activity and, if appropriate, on special payments to crew members. The UK Chamber’s close liaison with the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office means that WOAC is well placed to issue advice based on current, relevant information on hazards. Closer to home, the UK Chamber

has responded to calls from the unions for measures to protect seafarers from threats, verbal abuse, aggression and violence from unruly passengers. Drawing on examples of best practice from members, the UK Chamber has prepared guidelines to companies, which have been published by the National Maritime Occupational Health and Safety Committee. The guidelines have helped companies develop and gain support for policies to tackle incidents and to improve

understanding between operators of some passenger ferries and their local police forces.

Training The recruitment and retention of high- quality personnel into the industry depends on the provision of training that not only meets the needs of companies but equips seafarers with skills that will open as many career development doors as possible. It is difficult for UK seafarers to compete on cost with their counterparts from the major labour supply nations, so the fact that UK officers remain highly prized shows that they are competing successfully on quality. The Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) is the UK’s specialist body responsible for developing training frameworks that accord with international standards, most notably the IMO convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW). Amendments to STCW were adopted in 2010 and, as from July this year, all maritime education and training institutions will be required to offer courses in compliance with the revised standards. The MNTB is producing the supporting course criteria for this.

Career development Following the UK Chamber’s successful campaign for the retention of Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) funding over the lifetime of the current Parliament, the MNTB is developing a database to show the career destinations of those who qualify as seagoing officers. This is intended to demonstrate the impressive returns on the Government’s investment in seafarer training.

Meanwhile, the UK Chamber and MNTB’s

efforts to secure apprenticeship funding for the early stages of some officer training courses also finally appear to be bearing fruit. Approval of the industry’s proposals for alternative completion conditions is expected before the summer. This should help to offset some of the cost increases caused by reductions in further education funding last year.


The MNTB is developing

a database to show the career destinations of those who qualify as seagoing officers

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