The Merchant Navy Welfare Board (MNWB) is calling on the UK Government to introduce a mandatory port levy scheme across the UK to provide sustainable welfare provision for millions of seafarers.
n its letter to the Minister, the MNWB says a levy paid by ships visiting each UK port should be re-invested into the cost of providing long-term welfare support for seafarers. With only 8% of ports having a voluntary levy scheme in place, this falls significantly short in funding crucial welfare services including seafarer centres, volunteers, transport and connectivity for seafarers and fishers.
Maritime welfare charities support the following maritime 2050 recommendations:
- Raise awareness of the maritime sector in schools by having a single industry body overseeing a more coordinated cross-sector in-school awareness and ambassador programme.
- Task a single industry body for bringing greater coherence and coordination to the promotion of maritime careers sector wide.
- Develop a social framework that lays out UK expectations for the welfare of the UK maritime workforce.
- Government and industry to produce mental healthcare guidelines and develop mental resilience testing for seafarers.
- The UK will lead on exploring opportunities to encourage greater cooperation between the ILO and IMO on seafarer welfare issues.
- Lead the way in addressing modern day slavery concerns within the industry with the aim of eradicating it.
The call comes following the publication of the Board’s UK Port Welfare Provision Report – carried out to establish the cost of welfare provision in UK ports. Research findings from the report show:
- Only 10 of the 120 major and minor ports (8%) have voluntary levy schemes in place – eight of which are fixed amounts and two are tonnage based.
- Charities are expected to spend £4.8million on port welfare provision, providing 44 seafarer centres, 372 staff and volunteers, 77 vehicles for seafarer transport and 39 MiFi units for onboard connectivity.
- The voluntary levies in place represent just 3-4% of the total funds required to sustain existing welfare provision.
- 61% of major and minor ports do not have a seafarers’ centre.
- Only 35% of the workforce is paid, the rest is made up of volunteers.
Providing connectivity, transport and centres to millions of seafarers and fishers who spend months away from their friends and family is absolutely crucial to their welfare. But to continue this first-class support in the midst of charities facing increasing challenges to fundraising, a legislation of this kind whereby funding responsibility falls to those companies who employ seafarers, could save the welfare sector from crippling.
… said Stuart Rivers, the Chief Executive of the MNWB
In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Stuart Rivers had highlighted MNWB’s priorities over the next five years, which were as follows:
- drive up welfare standards in UK ports through self-assessment;
- pursue port levies to provide sustainable funding for welfare services;
- increase the availability of welfare services and facilities to the UK’s 111 ports and over 400 harbours.
According to MNWB, a number of other countries – Romania, Germany and New Zealand to name a few – have fully or majority funded schemes in place now. And dozens of other countries are working on levy schemes to provide sustainable funding for seafarers’ welfare.
We want to drive welfare standards and demonstrate leadership in the global maritime industry.
… Stuart Rivers concluded