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UK Transport Policy To Back Shipping

by Jason Gorringe,, London

30 November 2012

The UK government is planning to release a document in the first half of 2013 detailing its proposed policy for the transport sector for the years to come, and the maritime sector will feature strongly in it, the UK's shipping minister Stephen Hammond has assured maritime industry union Nautilus.

Officials from Nautilus met the minister for the first time since he was appointed in a government re-shuffle in September and held wide-ranging discussions on issues including UK seafarer employment and training, piracy, and the Maritime Labor Convention. Nautilus General Secretary Mark Dickinson reported that the discussions had been "positive and constructive" and welcomed the minister's offer of engaging in the future on key policy issues.

Referring to the forthcoming policy document, Hammond assured Dickinson that the government's policy would recognize the huge contribution made by the maritime sector to the UK economy, as well as the importance of supporting skilled and experienced seafarers. "It is very clear that shipping is crucial for the UK, and I don’t accept that it is in any way a sunset industry," the minister said.

Issues likely to be addressed in the paper include employment and training, and the ways in which shipping interacts with other modes of transport. Dickinson urged the minister to ensure that the current Support for Maritime Training scheme is safeguarded, and urged the government to consider new initiatives to increase the number of British seafarers being trained and employed on UK registered ships or ships subject to the UK tonnage tax scheme.

Hammond announced he would re-examine the joint shipowner-union proposals for employment and training, including a voluntary employment link for newly-qualified officers, and the tonnage tax cadet training requirements. A feature of the UK tonnage tax scheme is that those taking part have to make a commitment to train officer cadets, to increase the pool of UK trained seafarers.

TAGS: marine

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