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International Cooperation

International Cooperation

Nautilus has represented members' interests on a wide range of international bodies including the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Federation of Shipmasters' Associations (IFSMA).

Working with these organisations, Nautilus has actively taken part in the various institutions of the European Union, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in furtherance of the Union’s Strategic Plan.

Likewise, Nautilus has also continued its work to foster strategic partnerships with likeminded unions representing maritime professionals through the medium of the Nautilus Federation which seeks to enhance practical solidarity and pool resources.

European Transport Workers' Federation

Nautilus is affiliated to the ETF – a pan-European organisation – which embraces transport unions from across the continent. Its maritime transport section brings together 70 unions from across 33 European countries, providing a powerful voice to more than 270,000 seafarers and boatmen.

The ETF works to promote and protect the European maritime skills base and wider maritime clusters. It also advocates for high professional standards for seafarers and boatmen within the European Union and across the rest of the continent and campaigns for the eradication of social dumping and the establishment of a level playing field for all those who wish to trade in European waters.

Nautilus has actively supported the ETF’s work via its maritime transport section. The General Secretary serves as the Chair of the EU Committee and sits on the ETF MTS Steering Committee. He is also the elected spokesperson in the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Maritime Transport.

Activities over the past four years have focused on securing employment and training opportunities for European seafarers and boatmen and enhancing their employment rights. Key successes for seafarers include securing social partner agreements to bring Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) amendments into EU law. The social dialogue discussions have also sought to advance the concept of a European Maritime Space, enhance social protection in the EU, promote health and safety and wellbeing of seafarers and future-proof the careers of maritime professionals with the launch of a major EU project called SeaSkills, of which Nautilus is one of three trade union partners. Key successes for boatmen include the progress made on ETF River Cruise Campaign and the Towards a Sustainable Crewing System project.

ETF Campaigns

Thanks to the ongoing practical support, information, and guidance from Nautilus, the ETF River Cruise Campaign has been demanding fair, safe and equal jobs for everyone working in the European river cruise sector. With substantial contributions from Nautilus’s Swiss and Dutch branches, taking part in days of action in both Basel and Rotterdam, alongside practical assistance and collaboration with other ETF affiliates, the River Cruise Campaign has received widespread press attention and made significant strides towards securing Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) with major river cruise operators.

Nautilus has supported the ETF’s Fair Transport Campaign, which incorporates a specific Fair Shipping Campaign, to secure the creation of a European Maritime Space without social dumping. This aims to establish fair employment conditions for all seafarers based on the principle of European standards in European waters. The culmination of the Fair Transport Campaign was a week of action and a demonstration in Brussels in March 2019, with union members from across Europe – including from Nautilus – converging to highlight the ETF’s call for decent working conditions across the continent.

International Transport Workers' Federation

The ITF is a democratic and affiliate-led organisation representing 16 million transport workers globally, including nearly one million seafarers. The ITF is recognised as the world's leading authority on transport workers.

Representing seafarer and boatment unions in 147 countries, including all three branches of Nautilus International, the ITF campaigns for justice and decent work for the world’s 1.2 million seafarers. It seeks to eradicate flag of convenience shipping, works to raise standards and fights for seafarers’ rights, whilst protecting the vulnerable and eradicating exploitation.

The ITF inspects ships, signs collective agreements establishing minimum standards of working conditions and works with international agencies to help seafarers when they’re in need of assistance. In the four years since the last General Meeting the ITF recovered over £100 million in backpay for seafarers.

Nautilus has continued to support the work of the ITF in pursuance of the Strategic Plan.

ITF campaigns

In the period under review it is worth highlighting several ITF successes which have been secured with the assistance of Nautilus.

Nautilus took part in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) negotiations for a new international framework agreement covering the period 2019-2022. The ITF secured a wage increase of 2.5% in 2019 for seafarers working under IBF CBAs. In addition to this, an enhanced ‘dockers clause’ was also agreed, laying out procedures for loading and unloading operations in port to better safeguard the right of dockers to do that work and ensure ships’ crews remain safe.

Nautilus led the ITF delegation to the ILO Joint Maritime Commission Sub-Committee on Seafarers’ Wages that successfully negotiated an increase of 4.5% in the ILO minimum wage for seafarers. This is the only internationally agreed minimum wage applied to an entire industry.

The Union was represented at an ILO sectoral conference, tasked with addressing the gap in recruitment and retention of seafarers and the barriers to work opportunities for young and women seafarers. Several topics were discussed, ranging from cadet berths to career mobility, sanitation and medical examinations. Nautilus and the other unions present were supported by many European governments in seeking the abolition of mandatory pregnancy testing for women seafarers. A future programme of work has been developed to include promoting internet connectivity at no or reasonable cost, raising awareness of mental health, gender-appropriate personal protective equipment and the establishment of mentoring and networking programmes for women seafarers and groups vulnerable to discrimination.

The Union developed a bullying and harassment module for an ITF Seafarers’ Trust and World Maritime University distance learning course on the topic of maritime welfare. Entitled MARI- WEL, the course’s videos, lectures, and activities can be followed anywhere in the world. The course was designed for all maritime professionals working with seafarers at sea or ashore, including ship management companies.

ITF Congress 2018

The ITF’s 44th Congress saw more than 2,000 delegates from 495 unions and 127 countries gathering in Singapore for a week of sectoral and plenary conferences, to set the ITF’s agenda for the transport industry for the next five years and beyond.

Nautilus participated fully and actively supported several motions at the Congress, including those promoting the global adoption of the ILO Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (to facilitate seafarers joining and leaving and transiting to their vessels and shore leave) and those calling for a strategy for further improvement of the MLC. Nautilus also brokered a proposal calling for a comprehensive review of the ITF’s Mexico City Policy – which covers minimum conditions onboard merchant ships – to include concerns over unfair competition from some national flags, cabotage and bilateral arrangements. At the Inland Waterways Transport Conference, Nautilus tabled a motion backed by attendees to call for action to further improve the working conditions in the river cruise industry.

Nautilus also spoke in support of a motion calling for the ITF to promote LGBT+ rights with other global union federations. This was the first time that this diversity strand has been brought formally into the ITF’s work programme. The motion was adopted unanimously and will feature across numerous activities over the inter- Congress period towards the next Congress in 2023.

Nautilus representatives attended the Women’s Conference, which endorsed a work plan covering matters such as violence at work, menopause, access to clean toilets, employer support following domestic abuse and the impact of automation.

Nautilus was represented at the Youth Conference, where precarious work, outsourcing and age discrimination were raised, alongside under-representation of young workers in some union structures. Here, it was noted that young transport workers will be disproportionately affected by digitalisation and automation, as they face a larger proportion of their working lives with these issues.The conference also agreed that unions have the opportunity and potential to harness IT to make their organisations ‘fit for the future’.

At the Congress Assistant General Secretary Olu Tunde was re- appointed as a Lay Auditor of the ITF. Deputy General Secretary Marcel van den Broek, National Secretary Holger Schatz and International Organiser Danny McGowan were appointed to the Fair Practices Committee and the General Secretary Mark Dickinson was elected as one of the vice-Chairs of the ITF Seafarers’ Section. In this capacity he is also an officer of the International Bargaining Forum and an ex-officio member of the ITF Fair Practices Committee. Professional & Technical Officer David Appleton was appointed to the steering committee of the ITF’s Maritime Safety Committee.

The Nautilus Federation

The Nautilus Federation is a group of 21 likeminded trade unions representing professionals working in maritime and inland waterways.

The Federation’s goal is to enhance practical international solidarity, improve cooperation and share resources for the best interests of members. The Federation develops joint policies on issues facing members – from criminalisation, to fatigue and automation. The Federation retains a consultant to support the work of the ITF in the IMO.

A survey was conducted on automation and a report produced detailing maritime professionals’ views on autonomous shipping. With ITF and International Federation of Shipmasters’ Associations (IFSMA) support it was submitted to the IMO and provided a strong background for the organisation to use in its assessment of the legal and regulatory framework governing the operation of autonomous vessels.

In the spirit of practical solidarity the Nautilus Federation launched the Joint Assistance and Support Network (JASON). JASON provides members of affiliate unions with reciprocal advice and support if they are involved in an incident within a port, territory, territorial waters or onboard a vessel flagged in one of the countries covered by the cooperation arrangements. In addition, it launched a Fair Treatment checklist, providing members with actions to follow if their vessel is boarded by officials, a search is carried out, an interview is conducted or they are detained or arrested.

As part of the JASON scheme, all members of Nautilus Federation affiliates can access Nautilus 24/7 for an immediate response to any emergency situation.

The Federation also conducted a survey of members on the topic of Fair Treatment and Criminalisation and produced a report.

The affiliates of the Nautilus Federation are:

  • Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE)

  • Australian Maritime Officers’ Union (AMOU)

  • ACV Transcom-Maritime (Belgium)

  • Fédération Générale des Transports et de l’Environnement (FGTE-CFDT, France)

  • Danish Maritime Officers (DMO)

  • Finnish Ship’s Officers’ Union

  • International Organisation of Masters, Mates and Pilots (IOMMP, USA)

  • Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA, USA)

  • Merchant Navy Officers’ Guild – Hong Kong (MNOG-HK)

  • Nautilus International (CH)

  • Nautilus International (NL)

  • Nautilus International (UK)

  • Norwegian Union of Marine Engineers (NUME)

  • Officers’ Union of International Seamen (OUIS)

  • Seafarers’ Union of Croatia (SPH-SUC)

  • Singapore Maritime Officers Union (SMOU)

  • Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS)

  • Swedish Maritime Officers’ Association (SMOA)

  • La Unión de Capitanes y Oficiales de Cubierta (UCOC, Panama)

  • La Unión de Ingenieros Marinos (UIM, Panama)

  • New Zealand Merchant Service Guild (NZMSG)

The General Secretary has extended an invitation to all members of the Federation to attend the General Meeting.