Dutch seafarers facing job cuts after Maersk Line announced the sale of its Dutch ships are appealing to the shareholders of A.P. Moeller – Maersk to intervene to help save their jobs. Their open letter to the Maersk shareholders appealing for intervention with management is the latest step in a campaign launched in December 2020 and supported by Nautilus International, the international trade union for seafarers.
At issue are the jobs of 24 Dutch seafarers that were manning the company’s Dutch-flagged vessels. Last year, Maersk announced that it was selling the last five vessels in its fleet registered in The Netherlands. After completing the sale-charter back deal for the ships, Maersk announced that 38 Dutch officers, captains and chief engineers, could continue their employment, but another 24 Dutch seafarers, mostly chief officers and second engineers, would be let go. Reports said these seafarers were offered the option of re-signing with the company under Danish seafarer employment terms that would reduce their pay by a third and result in the loss of pensions and other benefits.
“It is incomprehensible to us and our members that a profitable company like Maersk, with over 300 ships in service, would not be able to find jobs for all 24 Dutch seafarers on their fleet in addition to the Dutch Captains and Chief Engineers,” said Nautilus International senior national secretary Marcel van Dam. “Our members do not accept this and demand that Maersk will withdraw all announced layoffs.”
According to a statement from the union, the affected seafarers feel particularly let down by Maersk management due to their willingness to support the company including during the pandemic. The 24 crew members are reportedly asking to go to sea to replace other seafarers who have been awaiting their relief or are due for leaves that might have been postponed due to the challenges of crew changes during the pandemic.
In the letter to the shareholders of the company, the seafarers as asking for support to maintain the jobs. “Most of us have been serving with the company for over 25 years and strongly feel that Maersk is penalizing us to boost profits,” they write. Maersk, they say, in its core principles highlights trust. “We, therefore, ask you to advise the Maersk management to stick to its own principles, so we can go back to work again,” they write in the letter.
Nautilus also says that it had a memorandum of understanding on job security reached with the company in 2011. The union is calling on the company to honor this agreement and to reassign the 24 seafarers within the fleet.