Nautilus, in collaboration with the TUC and RMT union, is gearing up for a demonstration outside Parliament on Wednesday, March 20, advocating for legislative reforms to prevent incidents similar to the P&O Ferries mass-sackings. This effort includes publishing a joint open letter to the government and launching a petition urging ministers to intensify efforts to safeguard seafarers.

Addressing the House of Commons in the wake of the mass dismissals, former transport secretary Grant Shapps tasked the government with preventing such occurrences in the future. Since March 2022, Nautilus has been actively engaging in campaigns to hold the government accountable and transform public outrage into meaningful, lasting changes to enhance seafarers' terms and conditions.

Despite some government initiatives post-P&O Ferries, such as the Seafarers' Wages Act and the Seafarers' Welfare Charter, Nautilus asserts that more needs to be done. The Seafarers Wages Act, aimed at extending the UK National Minimum Wage to seafarers on ferries, has drawn criticism for not adequately addressing the issue. Nautilus argues that the Act fails to deter companies like P&O Ferries from employing foreign seafarers under inferior conditions and pay, especially once outside UK waters.

Moreover, loopholes in existing legislation, including the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, have allowed companies like P&O Ferries to exploit trade union regulations to their advantage. Despite consultations on the use of "fire and rehire" practices, the government's final stance remains insufficient in prohibiting such coercive tactics.

Although the Seafarers' Welfare Charter aims to address various concerns, including roster patterns and hours of rest, its voluntary nature renders it ineffective without mandatory enforcement. Nautilus emphasizes the necessity of making the Charter mandatory and ensuring proper enforcement to prevent future incidents akin to P&O Ferries.

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Political support for stronger measures is growing, with Labour and other parties rallying behind the principle of a mandatory Seafarers' Charter. Nautilus continues to advocate for collective bargaining rights and comprehensive legislative reforms to safeguard the rights and conditions of maritime professionals.

As the campaign progresses, Nautilus remains committed to its goal of ending the race to the bottom in pay and conditions for seafarers, regardless of the political landscape.