RMT has announced that the shipping industry is being “blatantly alarmist” when it comes to the new low sulphur regulations and the threats it poses.
The shipping and transport union states that the concerns the sector has about the restrictions, which come into force on 1 January 2015, “threaten to destabilise the already damaged sector and which pose a renewed threat to seafarers' jobs and training."
The organisation stated that the collapse of oil prices in the last six months means that the costs of the rules have been reduced.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: ““Threats of job and route cuts and fare hikes in the shipping industry make no economic sense when global seatrade is set to double over the next twenty years. The country cannot afford for UK seafarers and the maritime skills base to be shut out of the opportunities this presents and the government needs to re-start the stalled Shipping Strategy to find effective ways of protecting and increasing UK seafarer numbers, rather than shipping companies’ profits.
"The number of UK ratings has fallen by 3,290 since 2011 alone and the shipping industry’s approach to the sulphur regulations must be seen by government for what it is: a cynical attempt to wrest more subsidy from the taxpayer to meet conversion costs bound up with the austerity agenda of today’s autumn statement.”
RMT National Secretary for Shipping Steve Todd added: “Seafarers, passengers and the national economy must not be forced to pay for the shipping industry’s failure to prepare for regulations introduced six years ago. New limits on the sulphur dioxide content of shipping fuel, required by international law, were announced by the EU in 2008 when the Chamber of Shipping welcomed them as 'a major move forward’ as well as a realistic deadline.
"Some operators have taken preparatory steps and we recognise that but RMT cannot stand by and allow the shipping industry a free run at our members’ jobs on ferries and at ports in the North Sea and Channel. Leaving these alarmist statements to the eleventh hour is a crude ploy that causes unnecessary instability in the industry."