So many complaints today surround the gulf between captains and owners. We have seen the problems caused by a lack of communication between captains and owners as well as those relationships that prove mutually beneficial and truly enjoyable for captains and owners.

With this in mind, is there a way to bring senior crew and owners together, perhaps even indirectly? There are already a number of organisations that have been set up to represent crew, and owners will often have their own support network, but has the industry ever thought about bringing these together? Would an organisation that represents owners’ and crews’ interests be a step in the right direction?

Garry Elliot, senior national secretary and head of recruitment and membership at union Nautilus International, told us that it is integral that there is a ‘partnership at work’ ethos when working alongside both multi-national corporations and individual owners. “A representative organisation has to have clear and transparent aims and objectives when representing seafarers on an international stage,” he says. “It has to be apparent when negotiating new regulations such as the MLC that the interest of crew takes an equal priority to that of an owner who will have their own representatives at such forums. We must not lose sight that we are representing all seafarers’ interests, otherwise who else would?”

According to president of the Professional Yachting Association (PYA), Andrew Schofield, looking at an organisation to represent crew and owners was a step in the right direction. “The PYA’s focus is on crew training and certification; it always has been and it will remain a key function of the Association,” he says.

“The PYA was originally set up back in 1991 by a group of captains who wanted to participate in the creation of the syllabus for the Master Class IV 3000gt limited to yachts. Being run by crew for crew remains the case today.” Ultimately though, as Schofield points out that, the captains are really representing the best interests of the owners. “By ensuring that a training and certification path became available to yacht crew it ensured that the people best suited to serve on yachts, [rather than], existing yacht crew, could continue to do so,” he explains.

Schofield is unsure whether a dual owner and crew representative body would work within the existing Association’s current form though. “A new organisation that incorporated the non-commercial, not-for-profit ethos of the PYA would need to be created,” he states. “By bringing together captains in this way, then the true voice of the true owners’ representatives could [be] heard. After all, who better to represent the interests of an owner than his captain who is, after all, his direct employee?”

It is clear that an organisation to represent both crew and owners is worthy of discussion but as Schofield suggests, this type of dual-representation might not succeed under the current system. Perhaps the next question we should be asking is: what needs to change under the current system to allow for this forward step to be taken?

To take part in this debate, visit our Discussions page here.

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