Shipping is the lifeblood of the global economy, carrying around 90% of everything we consume: the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the computers we rely on. The EU maritime transport sector employs around 230 000 people and European shipping accounts for over 40 % of the world’s fleet. The EU has some of the world’s largest maritime clusters. However, all the ships that carry those goods and passengers depend on seafarers, a group of transport workers who face rather unique conditions.
The fundamental goal of the ETF maritime transport section is to contribute to a strong European maritime transport industry. That vision underpins our priorities for 2017-2021. A strong, sustainable maritime sector means an industry without social dumping and unfair competition, with decent and safe employment, high-quality training and certification standards, and with an enabling environment for the recruitment and retention of European seafarers including a greater participation of female and young seafarers.
With this vision in mind, we have three main priorities:
The Fair Shipping Campaign aims to increase and protect employment for European seafarers by persuading the EU to enact regulatory changes to shipping rules. At the moment, the existing social and labour regulations, be it at EU or national level, only partially apply to seafarers. This leaves seafarers in European waters without the same level of protection as enjoyed by workers on land. This campaign will push for the creation of a European maritime space without social dumping, where European social standards – as opposed to internationally agreed minimum standards – would apply. These higher standards would help limit competition on labour costs and create an environment where European seafarers could be employed with fair terms and conditions.
The Seafarers’ Social Rights Campaign aims to strengthen seafarers’ social protection, shipboard welfare, and fundamental trade union rights. We want these social rights to thrive, in order to guarantee decent work and better living conditions. This will in turn promote recruitment and retention, in particular for seafarers on board European flagged vessels.
Future proofing careers for seafarers and maritime professionals is key to promoting employment and decent working conditions. The sector must focus on better matching skills demand and supply in seafaring jobs, and helping seafarers to adapt to changing work environments and new technologies. This is vital in a context of increased automation and digitalisation and the greening of the sector. The improvement of seafarers’ job prospects and the diversification of skills and career paths will also foster more and better employment for Europeans in the maritime transport sector.