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Chamber of Shipping: Migration Advisory Committee ignores officer shortage

The Chamber of Shipping is dismayed at the decision of the Migration Advisory Committee to recommend that ship and hovercraft officers be removed from the Government's shortage occupation list. There is a national and international shortage of such officers and without the ability to quickly recruit ships could be prevented from sailing and some lifeline services to offshore islands could be jeopardised.

The decision appears to have been taken on the basis of a suggestion from ships officers' union Nautilus International that, if ship and hovercraft officers remained on the list, this might allow companies to access a cheaper labour supply. This suggestion is entirely incorrect as any national of a non-EEA state who is brought under the points-based system to work in the UK must be paid at the rate at which a UK resident in the same job would be paid.

The Chamber is concerned that, if operators of vessels in trades to which the points-based system applies are required to advertise vacancies for two or four weeks (the Resident Labour Market Test) before they can recruit from outside the EEA, it may mean that the vessel where the vacancy has arisen will be unable to operate, since it cannot put to sea without a specified minimum number of crew members on board. The Chamber cannot accept the MAC's argument that the presence of ship and hovercraft officers on the shortage occupation list could damage the revival in officer training and risk unnecessary unemployment of suitably qualified UK staff. The Chamber does not believe there is any connection between these matters.

For further information please contact:
Jeremy Harrison, Chamber of Shipping (020 7417 2834)

Notes to Editors
. The Migration Advisory Committee was established by the Government to advise on shortage occupations, to which the standard Resident Labour Market Test would not be applied whenever a UK employer wished to bring a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) into the UK under the points-based system. It published its first list of recommended shortage occupations in autumn 2009 and, following representations from the Chamber, included ship and hovercraft officers on that list. Its second list has been published today (21 October 2009) and it is recommending that ship and hovercraft officers be dropped from the list.
. The Chamber of Shipping is the trade association for the UK shipping industry, working to promote and protect the interests of its members both nationally and internationally. With 137 members and associate members, the Chamber represents over 898 ships of about 23 million gross tonnes and is recognised as the voice of the UK shipping industry.
. For more information on British Shipping, please go to: http://www.british-shipping.org

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