“Defending the environment and employment are goals in the forefront of Italian shipowners’ priorities, but the political recipes that are emerging these days are heading in the opposite direction.” This is what is claimed by Stefano Messina, President of ASSARMATORI, with reference to both the draft of the Climate Decree circulated in recent days, and to a recent circular issued by the National Institute of Social Security (INPS), which risks increasing the cost of maritime labor progressively up to unsustainable levels.
In the Climate Decree, as is well known, the linear cut of 10% of all subsidies considered to be environmentally harmful is proposed, and some of the aid that have allowed the Italian maritime cluster to overcome a severe economic crisis, boost employment and return to being competitive with international competition, while limiting them now would only affect Italian companies, without helping the environment, given that the majority of traffic in the country is operated by companies that would not be subject to this measure.
In open contradiction to the measures that would be launched, the Ministry of the Environment recognizes that maritime transport is “the most energy efficient mode and with lower external environmental costs” than all the others, but this is not enough to secure aid to provide it to the cluster; it is generally stated that to maintain aid, unspecified “environmental improvement objectives in ship management” must be achieved; when shipping, perhaps more markedly than any other mode of transport, has made undeniable progress on the subject of environmental compatibility and is currently engaged in an enormous effort that will see the reduction of 7 times, in a single step, the quantity of sulfur contained in fuels; from January 1, 2020, in fact, the maximum sulfur content allowed in naval fuel will decrease from 3.5% to 0.5%. The costs for this step are enormous and are fully borne by the armament, without any burden on the State.
But for the armament there is also another blatant proof of total lack of knowledge of the economy of the sea: the INPS, with a circular dated 6 September 2019, modified the previous interpretation of the so-called Dignity Decree, establishing that the additional NASpI contribution (New Social Insurance for Employment) comes into effect each time a fixed-term employment contract is renewed and also applies to the maritime sector. The measure, designed to discourage temporary employment in favor of permanent employment, provides for a 0.5% increase in the additional contribution, equal to 1.4% of the salary, which the employer pays at the end of a fixed-term contract that serves to finance NASpI.
It is a pity, however, that maritime work is by its nature temporary or seasonal and seafarers in a “continuity of employment relationship”, that is always employed by the same single owner, represent a minimum quota, while the vast majority of employees are registered in the so-called “Turno Particolare” (Particular shift) or the “Turno Generale”,(General Shift) a special list at the Seafaring Employment offices at the Harbor Offices, from which the shipowners must draw to form the crew of their ships. And every contract ceases when the seafarer disembarks. If with every new call the NASpI contribution should increase by 0.5% (no increase limit is foreseen) it is easy to understand how, in a very short time, the costs would become unsustainable for any shipowner, with the final result of generating a huge bag of unemployment fueled by thousands of unemployed seafarers, as a result of a structural crisis of the entire sector, “in the face of the recognition of its strategic nature for the national economy”.
“ASSARMATORI – comments, President Stefano Messina, is convinced that there is no real will to trigger these consequences, but it is equally certain of the existence of a complusory risk for measures taken too lightly without assessing both the effects and the conditions of the sector in which they would go to affect “. To this end, and also to explain the dynamics of the sea industry, ASSARMATORI is ready immediately, together with the other trade associations and social forces, to confront all the institutions involved to find the most coherent and effective solutions to improve the environment and support employment, without endangering the maritime sector and the entire national economy.