Nautilus news

'Your Union, your future' - clarion call for action sounded at Nautilus General Meeting 2019

22 October 2019

More than 150 members, Union personnel and supporters met in Rotterdam in October for the Union's 2019 General Meeting.

The conference marked the official launch of the strategic framework 'Global Industry, Global Workforce, Global Union', and set the future agenda of the Union.

Members from three countries – UK, Netherlands and Switzerland – had the opportunity to discuss and determine the policies and priorities that Nautilus should pursue over the next four years as the industry faces challenges including Brexit, automation, and criminalisation at sea.

Held every four years, the Nautilus General Meeting is where the future of the Union is determined. Falling in the Union’s tenth anniversary year as a trans-boundary organisation – having brought together colleagues in three countries and created the first federated maritime Union in 2009 – this was a significant conference, and all minds were firmly set on ensuring a strong and globally influential future.

Chair of the Nautilus Council Ulrich Jurgens urged members to speak out during his opening address to GM19.

Mr Jurgens warned members against growing populist forces in the world that would seek to undermine collective action and trade unionism and included Brexit as an expression of that populism.

'Brexit is not something which will help our industry, it is not something that will help us as individuals or as a nation,' he said.

Born in Germany, and having lived in the UK for 19 years, Mr Jurgens said lessons of the past that led to the rise of fascism and the Second World War must be relearned to avoid them being repeated. Invoking the words of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, who was incarcerated in Dachau for criticising the Nazis, he urged members to work together to create a better future for all.

'Let’s ensure that our agenda in the Union, that our agenda as seafarers who are internationally minded, who are depending on international change, that our agenda trumps those who want to destroy this relatively free world.'

Key to that agenda is combating criminalisation of seafarers. 'We see masters sent to jail for making errors. We see fines paid for making errors. We see criminalisation on very basic levels which doesn’t contribute to making our lives and seafaring safer,' Mr Jurgens said.

Let's ensure that our agenda in the union - as seafarers who are internationally minded, who are depending on international change - trumps those who want to destroy this relatively free world. Ulrich Jurgens, Chair of the Nautilus Council

'The sea is a dangerous place. If we are prosecuted for trying to save our ships, our industry, the cargo of our customers, to protect the back of our owners; if our colleagues get prosecuted, as a Union we must continue our fight.'

With seven motions, three Council meetings, four guest speakers, and one debate on 'The future of work' GM19 marked the start of the Union’s next phase. What happens next is up to you.

  • More articles on adopted motions* on this page.
  • [*There was one additional motion that sought to change representation of organisations with large numbers of members on the Union's governing Council.It was remitted to Council to discuss in future.]
  • Members can watch a selection of video clips from the General Meeting via our private members' Facebook group.