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In order to be able to employ non-EU/EEA Masters on board Dutch-flagged ships, a special licence is required. The RTK agreement is a private law regulation that has been agreed between the KVNR, the VWH, the SMW, NEMEA and Nautilus International. Masters from a number of non-EU/EEA countries can be employed on board sea-going vessels sailing under the Dutch flag. Before such a Master can be employed on a Dutch-flagged ship, he/she must be in possession of a Dutch Master’s certificate of competency.
Before Kiwa can issue the Master’s certificate, one of the requirements that must be met is that the shipping company wanting to employ a foreign captain has an RTK licence. In contrast to the regulations concerning the employment of non-EU ratings and officers (the RAZ and RTO licences respectively), the RTK contains no provisions on (the level of) the pay and employment conditions of non-EU/EEA Masters. The RTK only applies to merchant shipping vessels, and therefore not to sea-going dredgers. There are separate regulations for this category of ship. More information on this subject can be obtained from the Dutch Association of Dredging Contractors (Vereniging van Waterbouwers).
A separate licence is issued for each non-EU/EEA captain. The licence states the name and address of the ship manager and the name, date of birth, nationality of the Master, and the period of validity of the foreign licence and the period of validity of the RTK license. The license is written in English. The RTK licence is issued on the basis of the Employment Regulations for Non-EU/EEA Masters (RTK).
The parties issuing the RTK have imposed a restriction on the number of nationalities that may serve as Masters. An RTK licence can be requested for, among others, the following nationalities: China, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Ukraine, and Russian Federation. This means that if a captain has the nationality of one of the 21 countries with which the Netherlands has concluded an agreement on recognition of navigation licences but the relevant nationality is not on the list, no RTK license will be issued for him/her and therefore no Dutch certificate of recognition. If a captain with an EU or EEA nationality is required to submit a certificate of recognition to Kiwa, no RTK license is required.
Conditions for issuing an RTK licence:
- The ship manager does not employ a Dutch first officer(s) who, in his opinion, is eligible for promotion to Master.
- The ship manager declares that there are no suitable Dutch Masters available in the Dutch labour market.
- The employment of non-EU/EEA Masters on Dutch-flagged ships does not result in the ship manager being forced to dismiss Dutch Masters.
- The ship's manager must apply sufficient recruitment efforts to employ Dutch Masters and Officers. This requirement does not apply to ship managers who registered their ships under the Dutch flag, and at the time of licence application, less than 2 years ago.
The recruitment activities are assessed as sufficient if the ship manager carries out the following three activities:
- offering internship places for Dutch maritime cadets;
- employing Dutch junior officers;
- offering Dutch officers a career path up to and including Master or chief engineer;
And also expands on at least one of the following three recruitment activities:
- participating in open days of nautical schools or other educational or professional exhibitions;
- positioning lateral entry personnel (‘career changers’) in or above their appropriate level;
- participating in promotional campaigns for the maritime profession.
The ship manager must cooperate with the annual surveys of the status of the Dutch shipping employment commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. In addition to the licence itself, the cost of an RTK licence includes agreements on measures and activities to increase the inflow, and limit the outflow, of Dutch officers into the shipping industry.
In this context, Article 7 of the regulation states that a contribution will be made to the Maritime Education and Development Fund (O&O fund) per Master position (or for the number of Masters as agreed with the ship manager) per quarter. The amount of the contribution to the O&O fund is currently €125 per quarter per non-EU/EEA Master.