As we all get used to our new reality of self-isolation, we have seen another week of grim headlines and the expectation is things will get worse before they get better. But out of the darkness comes some light and last night at 8pm much of the country came out and showed their support not only for our NHS and care workers, but also all the key workers keeping the country supplied. The beginning of the report on the BBC news at 10pm showed footage from Felixstowe where you could hear the horns of the ships. Great recognition for the critical role ports and ships are playing during this national crisis.
At the Chamber it has been another busy week supporting our members and pushing government for more help more quickly. We had a call with the Shipping Minister and DfT officials and outlined our priorities including seafarers’ access to the Job Retention Scheme; provision of financial support to ferry operators to guarantee the security of strategic supply chains into the country; the repatriation of seafarers and passengers, and we also sought confirmation on the use of credit notes in lieu of refunds for cruise and ferry passengers. As we get more clarity from the government on these, and any other issue, we will of course update our members.
The Merchant Navy Training Board also wrote a letter to the Minister about the issues being faced by cadets. We estimate that 65-80% of cadets in training will be adversely affected by the current restrictions placed on maritime training establishments and shipping companies in the UK. This is a big issue for us, and we will continue to do all we can to protect the next generation of British seafarers.
We launched a new video which showcases all the great work the Chamber has been doing and assesses the impact of the coronavirus on the industry so far. We also published a great blog by one of our new legal members, Ince. The blog provides analysis and practical advice for vessels and ports. I was also delighted that we announced WavesGroup and ABB as the newest members to join the Chamber. We exist to champion and protect the industry and through building a strong and diverse membership we become an ever more powerful voice representing the UK shipping industry.
Finally this week we have all read the reports about the impact the coronavirus is having on charities. The work of shipping and maritime charities is more vital than ever and the Mission to Seafarers last year ran an excellent Global Day of Action which saw business and organisations across the UK raise money for the charity. They will be doing the same again this year and if you are interested in hearing more please contact our head of membership Tony Jerome who can put you in touch with the team at Mission to Seafarers.