On Friday 22 May, the European Social Partners for Maritime Transport - the European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) - presented a joint position paper on the Commission's Mid-Term Maritime Strategy Review.
Pia Voss, spokeswoman for ECSA said: "I am particularly pleased that the social partners have managed to express a common view on a number of social-related key issues, such as working and living conditions onboard ships or measures to stimulate seafarers' recruitment and employment".
It is the very first time that ECSA and ETF have expressed such a common vision on the future of the European Commission's maritime transport policy, proving once again the vitality and the effectiveness of the dialogue existing at EU level between social partners.
Mark Dickinson, the spokesman of ETF added: "this exercise was not easy and it is obvious that there are still areas where ECSA and ETF continue to disagree. Nevertheless, we feel in our Social Dialogue Committee that there are many other issues where we do agree, and this time we decided to sit together and managed to express this common vision in a joint position paper".
The Social Partners insist in their joint submission on the need to make the most of the mid-term review exercise in order to strengthen the attractiveness of the EU shipping industry, which is an important source of jobs, both onboard ships - for ratings and officers - and onshore (directly and indirectly). To that end, the EU should provide lifelong career prospects in the maritime industry and maritime clusters and facilitate career progression from rating to officer jobs as well as labour mobility in the maritime industries throughout Europe.
The Social Partners also put forward the need to ensure thorough enforcement of a number of international and European requirements, such as the international Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), and call for continuous improvements of the standards of the Maritime Labour Convention.
The joint position paper further underlines the need to provide an appropriate framework for the provision, improvement and adaptation of education and training for crews, for example by means of more state support for training and education, and through continued support for projects put forward by the Social Partners for Maritime Transport in their Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee.
The joint position paper will be an important contribution to the Commission's ongoing review of its 2009-2018 maritime strategy. This document complements the individual answers that both associations submitted in the framework of the public consultation on this exercise earlier this year.
A full copy of the joint ECSA/ETF position paper can be downloaded here