Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by Dr David Glen (FUS 11A)


  The analysis of ratings numbers proved to be the most problematic in the study. This was primarily because of the largely casual system of manning ships with ratings which implies that such ratings can and do leave the industry at any point in their sea career. Secondly, exiting the industry is not recorded, despite the requirement of a considerable amount of statutory documentation regarding employment as a seafarer; for example, the need to possess a current seaman's discharge book issued by the department through the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, and to "sign articles" for a voyage.

  I examined the possibility of going through the individual records on seafarers held by the Registry of Shipping and Seamen, Cardiff. The Registry holds such details that it has in individual folders. As an experiment, two research assistants were asked to sample a number of such "pouches". They looked at approximately 3,000, and found virtually no useable information in those pouches. The approach was abandoned as being infeasible.

  An alternative approach to the problem of enumerating ratings was needed. The study combined two approaches to this problem. Firstly, the database of the National Union of Railway Maritime Transport Workers was made available. This consisted of approximately 7,000 records relating to individuals who were members of the maritime section of the union at the census date. Unfortunately, on closer inspection of the data, it proved difficult to derive accurate information about occupational categories from this source. Moreover, the lack of knowledge of the degree of unionisation among ratings meant that it was not possible to draw firm conclusions about ratings numbers.

  However, some useful information was derived from this source; primarily, the estimated split between deck and engine room ratings and those employed in the catering department, along with useful data on age distributions.

  The second approach was to use data derived from past Fleet and Manpower Inquiries, and government surveys on the non-federated sector, and apply econometric methods to the numbers derived therefrom. The data derived from these sources were combined to provide the basis for time series estimation of total ratings numbers.

  This method permits an estimate of ratings numbers, but provides no information as to their age distribution, gender mix, and occupational categories. The first two of these were estimated in the study via the RMT database.

  In summary-the problem with ratings is that their period at sea is very variable, and their period of training is very short-so few records are kept which are readily available.

8 February 1999

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