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Governance and Democratic Structures

The Council

The governing Council is made up of 32 elected members, plus the elected General Secretary. Meeting up to four times a year, each member of the Council is elected for a four-year period of office, with half the members elected every two years. Therefore, elections were held in 2017 and 2019.

In the 2017 elections the following new representatives were elected: Ross Cleland, Andrew Corrie, Niels Groen, Dave Gorshkov, Paul McMillen, S.A.R Schravemade, Hans Seven.

In the 2019 elections, the following new representatives were elected: Samantha Belfitt, Graham Fisher, Fraser Matthew, Ashley Gale, Bari Khan, Harald Ludwig. 

The following members left the Council between 2015 and 2019 and they are thanked for their service:  
Richard Bodenmann, Joe Bowry, Alistair Butlin, Aike Cattie, Bob Doyle, Dave Gorshkov, Martyn Gray, Peter Lok, Fatai Oyedepo, Hans Seven, James Shaw, Karel Slootstra.

In 2017 and 2019 the Council elected the following, who with the General Secretary, Mark Dickinson, constitute the Officers of the Council: 

Chair of the Council: Ulrich Jurgens
Vice-Chair: Wilco van Hoboken 
Deputy Vice-Chair: Iain MacKenzie

As of 2019, the Council are:

  • UK Navigators (inc. shipmasters) 
    Samantha Belfitt, Tom Cardy, Ross Cleland, Andrew Corrie, Graham Fisher, Fraser Matthew, Malcolm Graves, Stephen Gudgeon, Paul Minter, Iain MacKenzie

  • NL Navigators (inc. shipmasters)
    Henk Eijkenaar, Niels Groen

  • NL Inland navigation 
    Jan van der Zee

  • CH Inland navigation 
    Harald Ludwig

  • UK Rating 

    James Cameron
  • UK Engineers (inc. ETO, electrical engineer officers and radio engineers)
    Russell Downs, Ashley Gale, Bari Khan, William Jackson, Elliott Layfield, Philip Lees, Paul McMillen, John Wainman

  • NL Engineers (inc. ETO, electrical engineer officers and radio engineers)
    S.A.R Schravemade, Wilco van Hoboken

  • Other particular categories, including pursers and catering officers 
    Geert Feikema, Michael Lloyd, Jessica Tyson, Ulrich Jurgens

In the period between 2015 and 2019, the Council has continued to hold the General Secretary to account to ensure that the Union meets its Strategic Plan objectives and remains financially viable. In this regard, the Union remains financially strong but faces many challenges in the years ahead, not least the demographics of the membership. 

The Council, therefore, supported the General Secretary’s proposal to develop a longer-term vision towards the goal of ensuring financial sustainability. This has become known as the 2030 Vision and the General Secretary’s aim, endorsed by the Council, is to develop a coherent and ambitious cost-cutting response to the many challenges, risks and opportunities that the Union and its members face over the next ten years and beyond. This will put the Union on a sustainable financial footing whilst maintaining the delivery of services and benefits to members.

With this theme in mind, the Council has already carried out reviews of meetings arrangements (see below) and the Rules (and Regulations), with a view to ensuring that they facilitate modern methods of working, communicating and engaging with the members.

The Council continued to oversee the Nautilus Welfare Fund although much of the detail is now reported to the UK National Committee in recognition of the charity being UK focused. However, the Council remains ultimately responsible for ensuring that the charitable objects continue to be met.

The Council has overseen the activities of the Union’s various departments, such as Organising, Professional & Technical and Legal Services. The Council completed a review of the Union’s legal work and agreed to cap the Legal Defence Fund at £2.5 million, keeping that level under review.

The Council has also received regular reports from the General Secretary on the Union’s international activities in the organisations it affiliates to, including the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations, and by which means it maintains considerable input into the International Maritime Organization, International Labour Organization and the institutions of the EU.

The Council also carried out a review of the Union’s UK-based investment portfolio and agreed to a new Statement of Investment Principles and strengthened the Union’s commitment to ethical investments. The Council also launched a review of the NL investment portfolio which is currently ongoing.

The Council ensured that the resolutions adopted at the 2015 General Meeting and Branch Conferences were acted upon; and monitored the delivery of the strategic campaigns plan to deliver ‘Jobs, Skills, the Future’, and other campaigns including those relating to fair treatment and shipboard communications.

Finally, Brexit, perhaps the most contentious issue of a generation, was extensively debated by the Council in April 2016. Having considered a thorough and detailed report from the General Secretary, the Council unanimously endorsed the position that, solely in the interests of the industry in which maritime professionals work, the Union should advise members that remaining in the EU was the best option. The Council instructed the General Secretary to set out the Union’s view in the Telegraph and related articles on the Union’s website. In the aftermath of the referendum result, the Union has campaigned tirelessly for the opportunities that were outlined by the Leave campaign to be fully exploited for the benefit of the UK shipping industry and for British seafarers.

National Committees

In addition to the Council, three national committees for the UK, Netherlands and Switzerland take responsibility for the issues for which they have domestic autonomy as set out in Rules and Regulations.

UK Branch Committee: Twenty three UK Council members and five senior UK staff nominated by the General Secretary.

NL Branch Committee: Eight NL members of the Council, 11 members from the advisory board of the Nautilus residual legal entity and the General Secretary.

CH Branch Committee: One CH member of the Council, two members of the CH Executive Board, five members elected by the branch and the General Secretary.

Each branch holds Branch Conferences and normally hosts an industry symposium on a contemporary issue of interest to members and the wider maritime community.

These have been as follows:

  • 2016 

    UK Jobs, Skills and the Future 
    NL Smart Ships: Fact or Fiction 
    CH Perspectives of new Trimodal Terminal, Basel
  • 2017 

    UK Automation in Shipping 
    NL Investing in Maritime Professionals 
    CH Green Shipping in Inland Navigation
  • 2018 

    UK Fair Treatment and the Criminalisation of Seafarers 
    NL Offshore Wind Opportunities 
    CH Swiss Flagged River Cruise Industry
  • 2019 

    NL How to Sustain Fitness Onboard 
    CH Qualifications in European Inland Navigation and the Impact of Digitalisation on Skills

Executive Committee

The Committee has not been required to meet in the period since the 2015 General Meeting.

Establishments Committee

The Establishments Committee is 14-strong: ten elected members of the Council, the Chair, Vice-chair, Deputy Vice- chair and General Secretary. The Committee met four times a year and the Trustee Directors were also invited to attend in an advisory capacity.

Between 2015 and 2019, the role of the Establishments Committee was two pronged. Firstly, it had delegated responsibility to consider certain routine business items and take decisions thereon. Secondly, the Committee considered strategic and governance matters in detail and made recommendations to the Council. The Committee also considered in detail the Union’s management accounts, budgets, investment and subscriptions policies; making recommendations to the Council as necessary.

Following a review, the Council decided in June 2019 that the majority of the Committee’s responsibilities would be repatriated to the Council to avoid duplication. From 2020 onwards, the Committee will mainly focus on making recommendations to the Council on the future needs of the Union (essentially succession planning and long-term resource issues), making a recommendation in any election for the General Secretary and on the General Secretary’s salary and employment conditions.

Trustee Directors

Under section 12(1) of the UK Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, trade unions are required to ‘vest their property’ in a trustee (either as individuals or as a corporate body).

Nautilus has opted to use a corporate body, Nautilus Trustees Limited. In accordance with the Union’s rules, the Council appoints up to four Trustee Directors, on a recommendation from the General Secretary.

In many unions, the role of trustees is very much a formality. However, Nautilus has always taken the view that Trustee Directors should be able to make a significant contribution to its work.

They are: 

Henk Lafèbre 
Steven Clinch (From June 2018) 
Jim McAuslen 
Lesley Mercer 
John Lang (Until June 2018)

The Council wishes to place on record its thanks to John Lang for his 15 years of service as a Trustee of Nautilus International.

The Resolutions Committee

The Resolutions Committee consists of 12 elected members of Council and is responsible for ensuring that the policies determined by the members at General Meetings, via National Committees, and Branch Conferences are implemented.

A report from the Resolutions Committee was approved by the Council in December 2018 and an updated version is produced as a separate document, forming part of the General Meeting documentation.

Resolutions Enacted









Professional and Technical Committee

The Professional and Technical Committee includes 12 elected members of Council, who discuss a wide range of issues of a professional and technical nature, including entry into enclosed spaces, ship communications in port, emissions and the polar code.

Since 2015, the Professional and Technical Committee has held eight meetings, with each used as an opportunity to update the Council members on developments in the industry and to receive input and opinion on pertinent matters that can be fed into policy making.

The Committee’s future focus is to monitor the impact of the introduction of new environmental regulations to the industry, to input into the review of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers, and monitor the development of legislation for new technology and automation.

Young Maritime Professionals' Forum

The Young Maritime Professionals’ (YMP) Forum focuses on discussions around specific challenges facing young workers in the maritime profession and advising the Council on them; identifying the needs of young members to encourage their participation in the Union’s activities.

The YMP has met formally at least twice a year since the 2015 General Meeting, coordinating activities alongside other events, including the annual youth development weekends held by the General Federation of Trade Unions and Pride in London. In March 2019, the YMP Forum timed its meeting with attendance at the ETF Fair Transport campaign and linked up young workers in the UK and Netherlands branches.

Issues that have been discussed include qualifications, mental health, ‘sea to shore’ career transitions and mentoring, amongst others.

Since 2016, the YMP has seen several members discussing LGBT+ matters within its Forum. The YMP has been joined by other members and guests from the maritime industry (including ITF) at Pride in London since 2016 - and, each year has seen growing numbers applying to attend.

Women's Forum

The Women’s Forum focuses on discussions around opportunities for female members to engage in the challenges facing women in the maritime industry and advising the Council on them.

The Forum’s pivotal aim is to ensure that female members can contribute to wider discussions on standards in the maritime industry, particularly as shipping and maritime is heavily male- dominated.

The Women’s Forum has met twice yearly since 2015 and has established a guide for seafarers on maternity and paternity rights and another on bullying and harassment at sea.

Meetings are also held to promote maritime careers to females and identify the needs of women who contribute to the industry.

Review of Meeting Arrangements

With a view to ensuring that the resources of the Union are used effectively, a review was initiated by the Council of the meeting arrangements. The outcome of that review was endorsed by the Council in June 2019 and key outcomes are:

The Council will now meet three times a year (normally April, June and November). The agenda for the Council will include consideration of items previously delegated to the Establishments Committee and resolutions adopted at Branch Conferences and General Meetings, together with subject matter previously discussed by the Professional and Technical Committee. These changes will contribute to ensuring that the Council meetings are more engaging for the members elected to oversee the affairs of the Union.

The Women’s and Young Maritime Professionals’ Forums will be held together and continue to advise the Council within the terms of reference of the combined Forum.

The Professional and Technical Forum will continue to provide an opportunity for members to discuss wide ranging issues of the day, including those relating to the environment, health, safety, education and training. These discussions and any recommendations will be fed back to the Council as appropriate to inform policy making.

Branch Conferences will be held biennially in the UK (except in the year of a General Meeting, with the next one being in 2020) and annually in the Netherlands and Switzerland to comply with national law. National Committees will continue unchanged with the possibility of additional meetings as required.

Nautilus is also investing in technology to facilitate meeting engagement for elected members of the Council who cannot attend in person. Rules changes are also being proposed to aid this.