Blog: Delivering for our members through uncertain times

We all know Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact across the whole of society. Our great industry, the shipping sector, and its associated businesses, have not only been affected but have shown a huge amount of resilience and determination to get through the biggest crisis in a generation.

Here at the Chamber we have implemented new ways of working to ensure we are representing our members interest to the best of our ability. We have taken advantage of the use of technology to meet our members more regularly and our engagement with Ministers and officials has also dramatically increased. 

This greater engagement has resulted in some significant policy wins. At the beginning of the pandemic one of our key priorities was ensuring Britain had the food, medicines and goods we need, and the Chamber pressed the government to ensure ferry companies were supported. In April the UK government announced a multi-million pound support package for ferry operators and certain routes before almost any other financial support had been made for other industries.

This financial backing demonstrated the vital role our operators play in keeping Britain supplied and an acknowledgement of the strong case we made to the government. We have also worked hard with our membership to develop ferry guidance documents to ensure there are clear procedures and guidance in place for the safety of passengers.

The cruise industry too has borne a heavy price and the Chamber is right at the heart of planning with government and industry to get the sector restarted safely. We spent several months working with the government on new guidelines which will enable the cruise sector to put processes in place and restart cruising as soon as conditions allow. We are also now feeding into the Global Travel Taskforce which is being led by Grant Shapps and Matt Hancock. We will be working closely with members to ensure our voice is heard.

For the wider industry we lobbied successfully for the terms of Covid Business Interruption Loan Scheme to be broadened so more companies could benefit whilst also ensuring that seafarers and oil and gas workers are given the status and, where necessary, the exemptions to allow them to do their jobs safely. 

We wrote to the Chancellor and got the Treasury to amend the rules around the Job Retention Scheme so it included more seafarers and maritime workers and we lobbied hard to get seafarers, offshore and other maritime workers excluded from the 14-day quarantine restrictions. We also worked incredibly quickly and lobbied the Scottish Government to amend regulations so Scottish seafarers no longer had to isolate for 14-days when returning to Scotland for more than 14 days of leave.

We know what a vital role seafarers played, and continue to play, in keeping world trade moving during the pandemic. In May we urged the UK Government to become the first in the world to officially adopt new measures to ensure crew changes could take place and to follow that up we wrote to the Prime Minister demanding the UK lead the world and organise an international Crew Change summit.

The government heeded our advice and in June the Shipping Minister convened a summit attended by representatives from the IMO, ICS and governments from around the world to discuss how countries can open up their boarders to maritime workers so crew changes can take place. Although the crew change crisis is far from over, we are proud that we persuaded the UK Government to take a leading role in finding a solution to this critical issue.

We know that Covid-19 has had a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of seafarers and that is why in July the Merchant Navy Training Board and the Maritime Charities Group, a coalition of 10 major maritime charities, joined forces to publish a good practice guide to designing a training course for seafarers on mental health and wellbeing awareness. And in October, ahead of World Mental Health Day, we renewed our call for the practice to be adopted.

The guide was written by experts from the maritime and education sectors in response to the growing mental health crisis amongst seafarers and was launched during Seafarers Awareness Week. The health and safety of those working at sea and on shore must always be our top priority and amongst the policy wins and lobbying efforts of those at the Chamber I am proud we have been able to support the hard working men and women of our industry through things like this.

Away from Covid we have continued to support our members on major issues such as Brexit, decarbonisation and safety.

Events

In our last membership survey, 70% of members stressed Chamber-led events are a key benefit of Chamber membership. Organising events at the Chamber of Shipping over the last few months has certainly provided us with some challenges, but with challenges comes opportunity.

We identified the important role webinars can play in keeping our members informed, educated and up to date with vital information and in June a two-month trial webinar programme was launched.

Due to the success of our webinars we have just announced plans for a Virtual Conference taking place next February which will bring together leaders from across the shipping industry to discuss issues facing the sector over the next 10 years.

If you are interested in supporting our Virtual Conference, then please email tjerome@ukchamberofshipping.com.

Going Forward

The Chamber will continue to tirelessly lobby on behalf of its members on all Covid-19 issues having an impact on Shipping, but of course, there is also plenty of work to complete to deliver our Strategic Plan on behalf of the membership. The short term challenge is the UK departure from the EU and we are working with the UK government to support a smooth and frictionless transition.  In the longer term the path to decarbonisation is complex and the Chamber expertise is deeply involved in supporting our breadth of membership to understand the impact of regulation and market based measures.

For more information -  https://www.ukchamberofshipping.com/latest/uk-chamber-shipping-strategic-plan-2020-2025/  

Engagement

Please remember to use our experienced Policy Team who are here to help you. Here is a reminder of their names and contact email addresses:

Please also encourage all of your staff to sign-up to the Chamber communications. Those sharing the same domain in their email address can benefit from receiving a summary of the day’s industry news, regulatory updates, industry consultations, minutes from Committee meetings and other circulars. The more members of staff benefitting from access to this important information, the more value your business will receive from its Chamber membership. All they need to do is visit www.ukchamberofshipping.com/accounts/signup/ to set up an account. Any issues, please email tjerome@ukchamberofshipping.com