Polly Toynbee’s article about the British shipping industry (Docked wages: how British ship owners undercut pay, 30 August) shines a welcome light on the dubious morality of employing low paid (and even unpaid) foreign crews in ships operating around the country’s coast when hundreds of British seafarers are being made redundant or forced to accept reduced pay and conditions to remain “competitive”. For an island nation, it is desperately worrying that we have allowed an “open coast” policy to exist, whereby south-east Asian wages can be paid to people working off the north-east coast of Britain.

We need a maritime policy that maximises the employment of British seafarers in British waters. Without a sustainable supply of home-grown expertise, the future of the entire UK cluster of maritime industries and services will be at risk, and with it the UK’s status as an international maritime centre. When ministers talk of trading our way to recovery, and more recently exploiting the opportunities of Brexit, it is essential that there is a clear vision of how that will generate employment for British citizens.
Mark Dickinson
General secretary, Nautilus International

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