As the seafarers on Wood Group’s oil rig prepare to strike in response to increased redundancies, we take a look at how loyal workers are suffering as a result of industry pressures, and what can be done about it.
As an organisation solely concerned with the rights of seafarers, Seafarers’ Rights International (SRI) supports the plight of the workers and their families, and joins others who are urging the government to step in and review the strategy that is currently falling short and leaving many without jobs.
Falling oil prices will, of course, affect the rigs and in many cases redundancy is unavoidable, however the maritime industry should be pulling together to improve redeployment and recruitment practices at a domestic and international level.
Unfortunately, as we are increasingly observing, cost is driving employment decisions, rather than skills or location. There has been an increase in maritime recruiters actively seeking workers abroad, rather than advertising to the local seafaring workforce.
Alistair Carmichael, Northern Isles MP, has raised the issue in Parliament, highlighting that the situation will only be improved if government recognizes the need to review and improve the Merchant Shipping Act. He commented, “The strength of the UK Merchant Navy does best when the government takes its responsibilities seriously and engages with seamen and shipping companies.” (Source: Nautilus International)
What can we all do to ensure government acts?
We must stand together in supporting the workers and the local communities that depend on the skills these long-time seafarers hold. We are proud to support the cause and stand by maritime union, Nautilus, which has joined Mr. Carmichael by publicising a calling for all those in support to contact their own MPs to add their name to the Early Day Motion 1282 SUPPORT FOR BRITISH MERCHANT SEAFARERS, so that it can debated in Parliament.
SRI believes that this support will not only protect the livelihoods of local seafarers but also those of foreign workers from outside of the EU who may not be prepared, both in terms of skills or for the difficult working conditions in the North Sea, which could put them and their colleagues at risk.