…As European Shipyards, Manufacturers Urge EU to Safeguard Industry***
On the back of two piracy attacks on vessels in Gulf of Guinea last week, the International Transport Workers’ Federation has called for urgent global and regional cooperation to fight piracy in the region.
The latest incidents occurred in early November and involved the Norwegian-flagged MV Bonita and the Greek-flagged Elka Aristotle.
Pirates kidnapped nine crew members from MV Bonita while the vessel was at anchor off the coast of Benin in West Africa, and two days later four crew members were taken hostage off the coast of Togo from Elka Aristotle.
Several other abductions have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea in recent months, including eight crew members taken hostage off Cameroon in August, and 10 Turkish seafarers off the coast of Nigeria in July.
“Piracy and armed robbery have been long-standing problems in the Gulf, but in recent years, and months, the frequency of attacks is increasing. Sixty-two seafarers have reportedly been captured off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon this year,” according to the ITF.
Therefore, the ITF seafarers’ section chair, David Heindel, called on the shipping industry, governments and unions to work collaboratively to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The entire maritime industry urgently needs to take action to improve prevention, reporting and response to attacks across the Gulf,” Heindel noted.
“Coastal countries in the Gulf must work with industry and unions to identify actions, and allocate adequate resources, to reduce the risks posed to seafarers and shipping.
“While we acknowledge the difficult international regulatory environment, we must continue to build capacity and cooperation, and address the mounting human toll that these attacks are having on lives and physical and mental health transiting through the waters of West Africa,” Heindel concluded.
In the meantime, European social partners for the maritime technology sector have once again called upon EU policy-makers to adopt a dedicated European industrial strategy for the sector.
On November 8, industriAll Europe and SEA Europe, representatives of the MT sector, met in Brussels for their annual plenary meeting.
Reflecting on the year since the launch of their joint manifesto ‘Maritime Technology: A Strategic Sector for Europe’, the social partners have again united in their calls for European policy-makers to fulfill the demands set out in the document. The joint manifesto demands the maritime technology sector to be recognized as a strategic sector for Europe and calls for a dedicated European sectoral strategy.
As explained, the social partners are disappointed that these requests have not been actioned and are joining forces to call on the new European Parliament and the new European Commission to use this mandate to invest in Europe’s industry and its workers.
‘’The maritime technology sector provides more than 1 million jobs in Europe. These are high-quality jobs and are crucial for many communities and regions across Europe. We cannot lose these jobs due to unfair trading practices in other countries,” Luis Colunga, Deputy General Secretary for industriAll Europe, said.
‘’Workers demand that the European Institutions listen and stand up for European workers. We need a new strategy for the sector which tackles unfair trade and invests in shipyards and their workforces. There is no time to lose!”
There are around 300 shipyards and 22,000 maritime equipment companies in Europe, employing more than 900,000 skilled people. Based on orderbook value, the European shipbuilding industry ranks second in the world after the USA — mainly naval shipbuilding — and is bigger than its direct Asian competitors. What is more, European manufacturers and suppliers produce almost 50% of the global production of maritime and marine equipment.
“The industry is committed to deliver zero emission ships and barges for inland navigation and short sea shipping by 2030 and ensure that by 2050 any ship will be zero emission,” Christophe Tytgat, Secretary-General of SEA Europe, noted.
“If Europe wants to stay ahead of innovation, achieve its Blue Growth targets and the decarbonization of shipping it must put the framework conditions once for all so that maritime technology companies can compete in equal conditions in a fully unbalanced global market,” Tytgat pointed out.
“The risk of losing Europe’s know how, capabilities and leadership in advanced maritime technologies is high, particularly in the light of the ongoing unfair competition from Asia and China’s Made in China 2025 policy. Losing this knowhow and 1 million jobs is unaffordable for Europe! That’s why we are strongly calling upon the EU institutions to adopt a comprehensive sectoral EU policy to support the sector,” SEA Europe’s Secretary-General concluded.
World Maritime News