During the last year RMT Regional Organiser Daren Ireland approached Serco Marine Services who manage the contract for Pacific Nuclear Transport Ltd (PNTL) to support a trade union approach to delivering Mental Health Awareness.
The RMT initiative followed on from the union’s programme at Cal Mac and Isle of Man Steam Packet.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement at PNTL is for single table bargaining for Ratings and Officers and fellow seaman’s union Nautilus were approached and agreed to support the initiative.
The employer initially were looking at an outside company delivering mental health awareness, however through negotiation they agreed to have a two day course delivered by RMT. This would cover 178 ratings and officers, plus a number of management staff.
The course has been resounding success with over 15 courses undertaken, by tutor Andy Boyack, on The Pacific Grebe.
Ratings at PNTL are generally on either 8 week or 16 weeks tours of duty, the vessels Pacific Grebe, Heron, Egret and Pintail are RMT members home for these periods. All the vessels are equipped to carry Nuclear Material and Mental Health issues can occur at any moment during employment.
Daren Ireland, Regional Organiser with the RMT said:
Whilst we all want our members to be healthy all the time, deep sea 16 weeks tours can be particularly demanding, members need to be fit and healthy, and not suffering from poor Mental Health, should an incident occur whilst carrying Category One Cargo, and a medical evacuation be required.”
It is not straightforward given the cargo carried, the Government would need to be informed and a "friendly state" would be sort to assist in the medical evacuation, as happen only recently, this can often lead to a significant delay in proceedings.”
Hopefully by our seafarers receiving this training, symptoms of poor mental health, such as stress, anxiety and depression will be recognised, and talked about before serious incidents occurs. Then appropriate levels of support can be organised by the employer. Members should not suffer in silence and a greater understanding will be of benefit for all.”