It was almost a month between my post on the 8th of February and the one previous to this one posted on the 4th of March…

I did not therefore expect to be posting again – on the same day.

What has caused a second post on the same day?



Offshore sunset

Nautilus International has reacted with shock and anger to a decision by North Sea shipping company Farstad to sack 45 UK officers and ratings and replace them with cheap workers from Asia.

The North Sea sector has suffered around 65,000 jobs losses since the oil price crashed last year and the announcement that these British seafarer jobs are being moved to Asian workers is a further blow to the sector.

In emails seen by the Union, Farstad admits that it is making the crew — who all work on ships operating in British waters — redundant and intends to replace them with Asian seafarers in an attempt to ‘lower costs’ and avoid having to put any vessels into lay-up. The email added that the company was ‘sorry about the situation but we are trying to keep most of the vessels active’.

Nautilus senior national secretary Garry Elliott said that the decision by Farstad, where the Union has a trade union recognition agreement, was a shock to members who had been trying to work with the company in recent months and find ways to cut costs without losing jobs.

‘It is disgusting that a company who had previously agreed that British seafarers would be employed on British terms and conditions can ignore rules about redundancy and wipe out their UK staff without a second thought.

‘UK law states that a company can only make a job redundant, not a person, but these jobs clearly still exist as Farstad has admitted it will be recruiting Asian workers to replace them. What Farstad is doing is nothing more than creating fake redundancy as an excuse to sack workers and get cheaper crewing costs.’

Mr Elliott added that the situation was sadly far from a one-off as a number of North Sea companies had attempted to exploit UK rules and replace British seafarers with cheaper foreign seafarers.

‘Luckily we have managed to work with other companies who have considered this option and found better ways to make cost savings whilst keeping valuable British seafarer jobs,’ he added.

One Nautilus member who was away working for Farstad in the North Sea yesterday when he received the company email advising him of the redundancies, said British crew were already struggling to compete with other Europeans workers who have accepted less pay because they have a cheaper cost of living and don’t have to pay UK tax.

‘Now we are going to have to compete for UK jobs with people who come from Asia. Surely it is time for the UK government to take the situation in the North Sea seriously and start protecting jobs?’ he added. ‘Wouldn’t it be better to have 65,000 offshore workers in jobs, paying tax and supporting the UK economy rather than 65,000 UK workers claiming benefits and 65,000 Asians working in UK waters but not contributing a penny to the economy?’

The Union has called on Farstad to hold emergency talks to find ways around making the redundancies and is also considering legal action.

Friday, March 04, 2016


The headline?: SHOCK… Aye right!

So the inevitable has happened – why is anyone shocked?

It has been happening all last year and with almost 200 seafarers speaking to me about their redundancies during 2015, it should not be a surprise to anyone.

Comments on Facebook about this only happening in Britain are not quite accurate. The Norwegians are, under their ‘NIS’ register, crewing vessels with Filipino lads and recently I visited a Norwegian flagged vessel with only one Norwegian and one Swedish crew – the rest were a league of nations! Both Captain and Chief Officer said that they would not be back on that ship or with that company again.

I am disappointed that so many Brits are losing their jobs – the havoc in the short-term is nothing compared to long-term effects.

I had one seafarer come to our Centre a few weeks back – made redundant, now a taxi driver and never going back to sea! He isn’t the only one who will never go back to sea.

Finally, and I could say so much more, have we forgotten that we live on an island?

A nation that once ruled the waves?

How the ‘mighty’ have fallen…

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