Nautilus strategic organiser Rachel Lynch talks with UKSA about yacht crew support during the coronavirus pandemic, and why it is now more important than ever to work together for the benefit of all
What are the common issues superyacht crew are contacting you about at present?
The main issue now is the travel restrictions that are in place in relation to crew changes due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Other issues we are facing are non-payment of wages, addendums being issued for temporary salary reductions, members being asked to take unpaid leave, contracts of employment being terminated and issues with repatriation.
We have seen a growth in membership over the last few months, it's good to know that in times of uncertainty seafarers will turn to Nautilus for assistance and advice but it is also important for people to remember that they must join us in advance of an issue occurring in order to be able to access our full range of benefits and protections.
Over 50% of seafarers joining Nautilus since the beginning of 2020 have been those working in the superyacht industry and over the past four years, we have seen a 350% increase in yacht membership and retention.
What is the most important thing crew should remember at this time?
At this time, we would encourage crew to try to be flexible and work with the employer and rotational officers/crew if they can to try to find a solution that works for all parties. We are dealing with a global pandemic and this is not something any of us have dealt with before.
What is Nautilus doing to support crew in the industry during the pandemic?
Nautilus has launched an online hub with the latest information and updates in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seafarers travel certificates issued by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) – facilitating easier transport within seafarers' home countries and abroad – are also available on the website.
We are also working alongside the ICS, UK Chamber of Shipping, the ITF and others to continue to push for solutions for crew changes at every level.
Importantly we are asking all Nautilus members to speak to their crew members and other contacts in the industry to ensure that everyone knows about us a unique, independent organisation, genuinely looking out for their rights in the superyacht industry.
The latest news and updates can be found on the website News and Insight section.
What would your advice be to new crew looking join the industry?
The superyacht industry is unlike any other maritime profession, perks include opportunities for career development, world-wide travel to exotic locations, and working on a top of the range, luxury vessel. Salaries are also generally higher than those in commercial shipping.
However, with the perks come the downsides, which may include small living quarters, shared cabins, long working hours during high season, demanding guests, permanent positions onboard without rotations so spending a long time away from family and friends.
My advice would be to approach the industry with an open mind, being aware that there will be highs and lows, never take a position without obtaining a contract of employment and read the contract thoroughly before signing – and of course become a Nautilus member as soon as possible.