United Kingdom: representativeness of the European social partner organisations – Sea and coastal water transport

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 10 August 2008



About
Country:
United Kingdom
Author:
Helen Newell
Institution:

The number of UK owned and registered ships dropped from more than 50 million dead weight tonnes (dwt) in 1975 to just 2.4 million dwt by 2000. However, UK shipping has staged a spectacular recovery since the introduction of Tonnage Tax in 2000 and a positive Government maritime policy. British Shipping’s turnover increased from £4.7bn in 2002 to £11.6bn in 2005.In 2006 the number of UK owned and registered ships rose to 12 million dwt; there were 23.5 million international sea passenger journeys to and from the UK and 3.5 million domestic passenger journeys; whilst British shipping was the UK’s 3rd largest service sector earner after financial services and travel and contributed £3.3billion to the net balance of payments in 2005. In 2005 British shipping was the third highest earner of export earnings in the UK services sector. Total export earnings in 2005 were £9.4bn, a 100% increase from 2002. The Merchant Navy is a vital industry for an island nation like the UK. More than 90% of international trade is carried by shipping and around 95% of the goods that come in and go out of the UK go by sea.

Collective bargaining takes place at enterprise level, involving three trade unions: Nautilus UK, RMT and the Transport and General Workers’ Union (T& G). There is a single trade association, the Chamber of Shipping. Some Chamber members are voluntarily party to agreements made in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) covering terms and conditions for seafarers on open registry ships. These are negotiated with the ITF.

Sources: Maritime Statistics 2005 and Sea Passenger Statistics 2006 (www.dft.gov.uk); Maritime Skills Alliance (2005) Paper MSA1/05; Chamber of Shipping; RMT.

1. Sectoral properties

There is limited data available on employment in this sector (many are not provided for SIC 61.1, but are only provided for the category: transport, storage and communication).

  1994 2005**
Number of companies Not available 1,235
Aggregate employment* Not available Not available
Male employment* Not available Not available
Female employment* Not available Not available
Aggregate employees Not available 45, 600
Male employees Not available Not available
Female employees Not available Not available
Aggregate sectoral employment as a % of total employment in the economy Not available Not available
Aggregate sectoral employees as a % of the total number of employees in the economy Not available 0.147%

* employees plus self-employed persons and agency workers

** or most recent data

Source: Maritime Skills Alliance (Paper MSA1/05) 2005, figures relate to shipping SIC 6110.

In addition, UK Seafarer Statistics 2005 (department for transport), estimate that the total number of UK seafarers active at sea in 2006 was 26,520 consisting of:

• 13,240 certificated officers;

• 2,910 uncertificated officers: consisting of 740 technical and 2,170 hotel officers

• 9,320 rating: consisting of 4,350 hotel and catering; 3,610 deck; 820 engine and 530 general purpose or technical

• 1,050 officer trainees.

• Officer cadet new starts are expected to be around 600 for 2005/6.

The number of certificated officers in total – that is those who hold valid certificates and were either active at sea or working on shore in 2005, was 15,770. Again, the figures are not broken down by gender. The number of UK seafaring ratings employed on UK ships dropped from more than 30,000 in 1980 to 9,300 in 2005. There has been an increasing tendency among ship operators to employ ratings from eastern Europe and Asia on cost grounds. In the ferry sector, traditionally a key sector for the employment of UK ratings, pressures on operating costs from the loss of duty-free sales, competition from the Channel Tunnel and low-cost airlines have resulted in significant restructuring and redundancies for UK seafarers.

2. The sector’s unions and employer associations

This section includes the following unions and employer associations:

1. unions which are party to sector-related collective bargaining

2. unions which are a member of the sector-related European Union Federation (i.e. ETF – European Transport Workers’ Federation – Maritime Transport Section)

3. employer associations which are a party to sector-related collective bargaining

4. employer associations which are a member of the sector-related European Employer Federation (i.e. ECSA – European Community Shipowners’ Association)

2a Data on the unions

2a.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

2a.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. blue-collar workers, private-sector workers, maritime transport employees, etc.)

2a.3 Number of union members (i.e. the total number of members of the union as a whole)

2a.4 Number of union members in the sector

2a.5 Female union members as a percentage of total union membership

2a.6 Density with regard to the union domain (see 2a.2)

2a.7 Density of the union with regard to the sector

2a.8 Does the union conclude collective agreements?

2a.9 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including cross-sectoral associations)

Three unions represent members in this sector: Nautilus UK (called the National Union of Marine, Aviation and Shipping Transport Office rs (NUMAST) until 2006), the RMT and the T&G. Union density in the broader industry sector Transport and Communications as a whole in 2005 stood at 42.2% (Trade Union Membership 2005, DTI Employment Market Analysis and Research, Grainger, H: 2006) however, there are no statistics available for SIC 61.1. The figures below, therefore, have been supplied by the individual unions and employer associations concerned.

Nautilus UK

Nautilus UK organises workers (officers rather than ratings) in the merchant navy and all related areas. This union is planning to merge with its Dutch counterpart Nautilus NL in 2008 to form a new single union, Nautilus.

2a.1 Membership is voluntary.

2a.2 Not available.

2a.3 Nautilus has 19,258 union members.

2a.4 All of the members of Nautilus fall within the relevant sector: 19,258.

2a.5 Not available.

2a.6 Not available.

2a.6 Not available.

2a.7 Not available.

2a.8 Yes the union does conclude collective agreements.

2a.9 The union is affiliated to the TUC and ITF.

The RMT - the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

The RMT represents nearly 75,000 members in almost every sector of the transport industry, from mainline and underground rail to shipping, buses and road-freight. In this sector it represents mostly seafaring ratings.

2a.1 Membership is voluntary.

2a.2 Not available.

2a.3 The RMT has 75,000 members

2a.4 6000.

2a.5 7.5% women members in sea and coastal sector (10.7% in all sectors).

2a.6 Not available.

2a.6 Not available.

2a.7 Not available.

2a.8 Yes the union does conclude collective agreements.

2a.9 The union is affiliated to the TUC, ITF and the ETWF.

The T&G (Transport and General Workers Union)

Represents workers in most port based or coastal maritime activity (as well as British Inland Waterways) including ferries in Scotland, Liverpool and Southampton. The T&G represents seafaring ratings. On 1 May 2007 the T&G formally merged with Amicus to form a new union, Unite.

2a.1 Membership is voluntary.

2a.2 Not available.

2a.3 The T&G has 835,351 members

2a.4 Union estimates 3,000 Unite members in the sector.

2a.5 Not available.

2a.6 Not available.

2a.6 Not available.

2a.7 Not available.

2a.8 Yes the union does conclude collective agreements.

2a.9 The T&G is affiliated to the TUC and ITF.

2b Data on the employer associations

Chamber of Shipping

2b.1 Type of membership (voluntary vs. compulsory)

2.b1 Membership is voluntary.

2b.2 Formal demarcation of membership domain (e.g. SMEs, small-scale crafts/industry, sub-sectors of sea and coastal water transport, etc.)

2b.2 Membership is open to any company based in the UK which owns or operates merchant ships, irrespective of where its ships are registered. Associate membership is also available to shipowner associations, companies and organisations which provide services to British shipping, marine radio companies and protection and indemnity and defense associations.

2b.3 Number of member companies (i.e. the total number of members of the association as a whole)

2b.3 The Chamber of Shipping has 134 members and associate members and represents over 793 ships of about 21 million tonnes. There are a number of very small companies and local authorities, perhaps operating a handful of small ships, which are not in Chamber membership. Also there will be companies operating ships in UK waters that are not based in the UK and, hence, not eligible for Chamber membership.

2b.4 Number of member companies in the sector

All the member companies are in the relevant sector, 134.

2b.5 Number of employees working in member companies (i.e. the total number of the association as a whole)

Not available

2b.6 Number of employees working in member companies in the sector

Not available

2b.7 Density of the association in terms of companies with regard to their domain (see 2b.2)

Not available

2b.8 Density of the association in terms of companies with regard to the sector

Not available

2b.9 Density in terms of employees represented with regard to their domain (see 2b.2)

Not available

2b.10 Density in terms of employees represented with regard to the sector

Not available

2b.11 Does the employer association conclude collective agreements?

No.

2b.12 For each association, list their affiliation to higher-level national, European and international interest associations (including the cross-sectoral associations).

Member of the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Shipping Federation and the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA).

Other relevant trade associations are the British Tugowners' Association; UK Offshore Operators' Association; the Association of Pleasure Craft Operators; and the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA). The latter is the most significant but its primary activities relate to promotion of travel by sea and river to the public, and public safety. No other information available

3. Inter-associational relationships

3.1. Please list all unions covered by this study whose domains overlap.

Whilst some overlap of domain potentially exists particularly between the two unions representing seafaring ratings no further information is available on the extent and nature of this overlap.

3.2. Do rivalries and competition exist among the unions, concerning the right to conclude collective agreements and to be consulted in public policy formulation and implementation?

In relation to public policy formulation and implementation although there are no formal mechanisms for consultation with the trade unions, informal consultation is common. Nautilus UK has been pressing the government to resist the trend towards unregulated conditions or international minimum standards to maintain the UK register's reputation for quality and professionalism. It has also influenced the development of international maritime safety standards through its work with government departments and European and global organisations.

The RMT have worked with a Parliamentary discussion group. The Group has raised concerns with the Shipping Minister over the issue of low pay on UK ships which is compounded by the exemption for seafarers recruited abroad from the 1976 Race Relations Act as regards pay, whilst the National Minimum Wage only applies in UK internal waters. The Shipping Minister has agreed to a dialogue with the union, alongside other industry participants, on the problems of low pay in UK shipping and how they might be resolved.

A Government Task Force on employment in the shipping industry has asked the trade unions representing seafaring ratings, the RMT and the TGWU, to make comments on employment prospects and they have supported a paper presented to the task force jointly by the Chamber of Shipping and NUMAST since similar issues are raised for all types of worker. RMT and TGWU have together submitted a paper to the Department of Transport Employment sub-group of the Shipping Task Force.

3.3. If yes, are certain unions excluded from these rights?

Not applicable.

3.4. Same question for employer associations as 3.1.

Not applicable

3.5. Same question for employer associations as 3.2.

The Chamber of Shipping endeavours to influence government policy on shipping, both nationally in the UK, and internationally in Europe and in inter-governmental organisations. This involves monitoring developments in, and maintaining liaison with, related industries and services - including shipbuilding and repairing, marine equipment manufacture, ports and other maritime services, and financial and other professional services in the City. The purpose is to secure a framework in which British shipping can prosper, for example, by ensuring freedom to trade. The Chamber has close working contacts with many government departments in order to press the industry’s case.

3.6. Same question for employer associations as 3.3.

Not applicable

4. The system of collective bargaining

4.1. Estimate the sector’s rate of collective bargaining coverage (i.e. the ratio of the number of employees covered by any kind of collective agreement to the total number of employees in the sector).

Figures are available only for the Transport and Communication Sector as a whole, in which 48% of employees were covered by collective agreements in 2005 (Trade Union Membership 2005, DTI Employment Market Analysis and Research, Grainger, H: 2006). No figures are available for coverage within SIC 61.1 specifically.

4.2. Estimate the relative importance of multi-employer agreements and of single-employer agreements as a percentage of the total number of employees covered.

Not applicable.

4.2.1. Is there a practice of extending multi-employer agreements to employers who are not affiliated to the signatory employer associations?

Not applicable.

4.2.2. If there is a practice of extending collective agreements, is this practice pervasive or rather limited and exceptional?

Not applicable.

4.3. List all sector-related multi-employer wage agreements* valid in 2005 (or most recent data), including for each agreement information on the signatory parties and the purview of the agreement in terms of branches, types of employees and territory covered

Not applicable.

* Only wage agreements which are (re)negotiated on a reiterated basis. For the notion of ‘sector-related’, see the conceptual remarks in the accompanying briefing note. Please be reminded that agreements whose purview covers, for instance, only inland water transport according to NACE 61.2 but no part of sea and coastal water transport according to NACE 61.1 must not be taken into consideration! In case of regionally differentiated, parallel agreements, an aggregate answer explaining the pattern may be given.

5. Formulation and implementation of sector-specific public policies

5.1. Are the sector’s employer associations and unions usually consulted by the authorities in sector-specific matters? If yes, which associations?

Yes, Chamber of Shipping, Nautilus UK, RMT and TGWU, but on an informal and ad hoc basis.

5.2. Do tripartite bodies dealing with sector-specific issues exist? If yes, please indicate their domain of activity (for instance, health and safety, equal opportunities, labour market, social security and pensions etc.), their origin (agreement/statutory) and the interest organisations having representatives in them:

No. The nearest approximation is a Sector Skills Council (SSC). These are employer-led, independent organisations that cover specific sectors across the UK and are concerned to reduce skills shortages; increase productivity and performance; and improve learning opportunities and qualifications for the workforce. All SSCs are licensed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, in consultation with Ministers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sector Skills Councils are not formally tripartite bodies but provide a forum for discussion between employers and trade unions to discuss current and future sector skill requirements and agree proposals on how these can best be met. The relevant SSC for the sector is the Maritime Skills Alliance (MSA), which was formally established in January 2004, and encompasses the Fish Catching, Marine Leisure, Ports and Shipping industries.

6. Statutory regulations of representativeness

6.1. In the case of the unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to conclude collective agreements? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No.

6.2. In the case of the unions, do statutory regulations exist which establish criteria of representativeness which a union must meet, so as to be entitled to be consulted in matters of public policy and to participate in tripartite bodies? If yes, please briefly illustrate these rules and list the organisations which meet them.

No.

6.3. Are elections for a certain representational body (e.g. works councils) established as criteria for union representativeness? If yes, please report the most recent electoral outcome for the sector.

No.

6.4. Same question for employer associations as 6.1.

No.

6.5. Same question for employer associations as 6.2.

No.

6.6. Are elections for a certain representational body established as criteria for the representativeness of employer associations? If yes, please report the most recent outcome for the sector.

No.

7. Commentary

There are few concerns from the social partners about representativeness. The bigger issues are the challenges facing the sector, particularly that UK shipping operates in global markets with few barriers to entry and faces international competition. RMT believes that the principal problem facing the UK Industry is competition from ‘sub-standard’ shipping and employers utilising low cost seafarers. Also, whilst the UK operates a policy of open coastlines, cabotage restrictions continue to prevent UK shipping from competing in certain parts of the world, including some EU Member States.

UK shipowners have sought to reduce costs in order to remain competitive in the international market. A trend for flagging-out and replacing British crews with cheaper third country nationals started in the late 1970s and accelerated throughout the 1980s. UK shipping unions have criticised companies employing cheap labour on inferior conditions of employment and often poor operational standards. In the last few years these practices have spread from open or FOC registers to certain national flag registers, the UK being the most prominent example. These recent developments have meant there are many seafarers working on UK registered ships that are not subject to UK collective bargaining arrangements with the UK maritime unions.

Helen Newell, IRRU, University of Warwick

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