Isles MP Alistair Carmichael challenged the government in the House of Commons yesterday to “stem the flow of job losses” among UK seafarers.
He asked what the government was doing about the issue. In particular, Mr Carmichael wanted to know if shipping minister Robert Goodwill would take a look at how some of the regulation operated here.
He said: “My constituents tell me that the operation of the certificates of equivalent competency, for example, are putting them at a disadvantage compared with seafarers from other parts of the world.”
Mr Goodwill replied: “We certainly have the best-qualified seamen in the world, due in no small part to the tonnage tax scheme and the SMarT– support for maritime training – funding of £15 million a year.
“It is of concern if less-qualified people are taking jobs. I know that there are particular problems in the North Sea with regard to jobs being cut. I would be pleased to meet the right honorable gentleman to talk about the matter in more detail.”
Mr Carmichael said later: “I am pleased that the minister is willing to meet and discuss the issues facing UK seafarers this week.
“I have already met with a number of constituents working in the industry and this week meet senior officials from the shipping officers’ union Nautilus. They all tell me the same thing – jobs are being lost and the government needs to do more to protect our seafarers.
“The minister is right to praise our seafarers for their professionalism but that is worth nothing if they are squeezed out of jobs by people who do not need the same level of qualification.”