Crew communications

The UK government recently announced that access to the internet should no longer be a luxury, it should be a basic right. However, a number of recent surveys by the Union and other maritime organisations revealed that only around 50% of seafarers have internet access and those that do often have very limited access at high cost.

Aims

This campaign will seek to persuade shipping companies to give internet access to all members (and by extension other seafarers) on their vessels, and where there is already a basic provision to encourage a move to free wifi access on board.

Connectivity at Sea Nautilus whitepaper

It will seek to understand which companies already make provision and whether it can be improved and what reasons companies give for not providing it. It will provide members themselves with the tools to go back to their management and explain the benefits and relative costs, as well as dispersing any misconceptions they may have.

Campaign objectives

The first stage of the campaign is the Nautilus Connectivity at Sea whitepaper produced from a survey of members on how they perceive access onboard, what they would like it to be and what devices they are currently using. A key part of this survey is to find out if members are at the stage of making employment choices based on the availability of internet access, which anecdotal evidence suggests is beginning to happen.

Companies where we have members will also be asked about their provision and any reasons they have for not wanting to provide it or increase the availability of it.

There is already a lot of information out there on internet provision at sea and the risks and reasons for installing it. Bringing all this data together should give a clear view of the organisations that would support it and we will work with them to increase the pressure on shipping companies. This will also include speaking to providers to find out how expensive it wifi at sea is and how difficult it is to install.

persuading shipping to give internet access to all seafarers is the aim of the Crew Communications strategic campaign

From these surveys the campaign will develop a pack for the Union’s Industrial Organisers, Lay Representatives and members to take to their companies. It will include ‘myth busting’ issues such as cost and security. It will include a policy document which our Industrial Organisers, Lay Reps and members can take to their companies which will outline the responsibility to use the internet safely and not bring the company into disrepute. It will also give suggestions on what equipment is needed and the time and costs involved to install. This resource can then use this in collective bargaining for improvements in pay and conditions.

In order to build pressure on the industry to allow members better internet access the campaign will respond to any news which highlights the importance of internet access. It will engage social media to show that seafarers are not given the same access as most other workers ashore because of the peripatetic nature of the seafarers employment.

The campaign will seek the support of seafarer welfare charities in order to improve the availability and reliability of port wifi services. The survey of members will ask for their opinions on port wifi to see if this is an area which they still want to see improved and if they still have value, giving that most now carry personal devices. It may be that an increased uptake in wifi on board ships means that the wifi services provided by these charities become obsolete.