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European Maritime Technology Sector: rescue plan needed to save the industry and its workers


10 Dec 2020


Social Europe & Jobs

Workers in the European Maritime Technology sector call for a sectoral recovery plan to safeguard their jobs. The sector, which supports more than 500,000 direct jobs and 400,000 indirect jobs in the EU, with thousands more across wider Europe, was already in bad shape before COVID-19 hit.

The European Maritime Technology sector, which includes around 300 shipyards and 28,000 maritime suppliers in Europe, is renowned for producing high-tech and innovative equipment and vessels on the global market. However, the ongoing challenges of unfair competition and global overcapacity, on top of site closures and production stoppages due to COVID-19, means that the survival of the industry is at risk. 

Judith Kirton-Darling, Deputy General Secretary of industriAll Europe said:

‘’We have a proud history of shipbuilding in Europe and today’s production of high-tech equipment and vessels including the production of ‘’green ships’’ is something that we are very proud of today. However, this sector is at risk and this could be particularly devastating for the various coastal regions in Europe who rely on the industry."

‘’Trade unions have come together to demand action at regional, national and European level to ensure not just the recovery of the sector, but to guarantee that it survives while facing tough, and often unfair, international competition. Specifically, we call on the European Commission to produce a new ambitious European industrial strategy for the sector which covers commercial shipbuilding, repair, defence and off-shore industries.’’ 

The position paper, which includes demands to tackle unfair trade, increase decarbonisation and end precarious work, is well timed with the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy expected later this week. Trade unions highlight that Europe needs to lead in high-tech and green vessels while fighting off tough international competition in this area. 

Judith Kirton-Darling added:

‘’Europe has the capacity to lead in producing the most high-tech, high-value and green vessels and equipment in the world. Workers are keen to play a leading role in this transition. However, the sector is under increased pressure and we have already seen temporary yard closures in Germany, Norway, Italy and France plus redundancies announced at some yards including in Finland."

‘’Workers in Europe are extremely concerned. We need to safeguard the industry and its skilled workforce who are essential in decarbonising the sector and helping Europe to reach its climate ambitions. We cannot lose this know-how and we call for a strong recovery plan to keep shipyards, equipment suppliers and the full supply chain afloat.’’



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