Pulling Together

Pulling Together

The Making of a Global Maritime Trade Union

Andrew Linington

Foreword by Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

  • A trade union and maritime history with lessons for today
  • The story of how maritime professionals have worked together, across national borders, to develop specialist services and support and build pioneering methods of representation and negotiation in a globalised industry


Print edition: £19.99
234 x 156mm
192 pages
illustrated with 50 b/w and 20 colour photos

Ship masters and officers may not seem like pioneers of trade unionism. However, this history of their unique union, Nautilus International, shows how they have been pitched into the forefront of a long struggle for decent jobs, fair pay and conditions, employment rights, and health and safety – all in an international industry marked by savage and cut-throat competition.

This book traces the evolution of today’s trans-boundary organisation from its roots in the Victorian-era expansion of the merchant fleet and the moves to raise the status and professionalism of its seafarers. It tells how successive unions have sought to overcome such seemingly perennial problems as piracy, criminalisation, substandard ships, excessive working hours and the threat of being replaced by low-cost crews – not to mention the battle against government indifference and public ignorance of an industry that is essential for an island nation.

From the formation, in 1857, of the Mercantile Marine Service Association (MMSA) – the foundation stone in the building of today’s union – the book explains the remarkable ways in which the union has adapted and developed to meet the changing and complex challenges faced by members. From the provision of specialist welfare services and a global network of legal support to its leading role in the development of the international ‘bill of rights’ for seafarers, the union and its forerunners have been at the cutting edge of cradle- to-grave support for members.

Pulling Together also describes the way in which the union has helped to produce trail-blazing systems of structure and organisation to represent members against the backdrop of a volatile ‘boom and bust’ industry, often in the face of intense shipowner hostility. Helping to build national negotiating machinery in one of the most open markets of all industries, the union and its predecessors have worked across borders to create a united response to the global challenges they face.

With the shipping industry now entering its fourth industrial revolution, this book shows how Nautilus can draw from more than 160 years of history to continue the fight for a fair future for its members.


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