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Seafarers have many negatives to face while on board

Including piracy, fatigue, visas and lack of communication facilitites Jon Whitlow, who is ITF seafarers' section secretary, said that seafarers have many negatives to face while on board, including piracy, criminalisation, fatigue, denial of shore leave, visas, ISPS and lack of communication facilities. He said that the real issue is to respect seafarers and although seafarers and the human element are often discussed, there are usually very few action points and even less implementation. Even though the ITF had not undertaken a survey on the impact of piracy on recruitment and retention of seafarers, piracy was having an important impact on their morale.The number of attacks and degree of risk faced by crews would not be tolerated in another industry. Mr Whitlow also said that shipowners and the flag state have a duty of care to the seafarers who serve on their ships and that most of the big flag states have not made the contribution they should have to combating piracy.Criminalisation of seafarers was also a major concern among seafarers.The International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention promised to raise the bar and hopefully eliminate some unacceptable practices, but it is not a panacea.Mr Whitlow said that he hoped the ...

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Piracy victims receive help

Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program A programme to help seafarers and families cope with the physical and mental trauma caused by torture and abuse at the hands of pirates launches today in London, England.Pirates are routinely using extreme brutality and the threat of death against seafarers and their relatives. The new Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP) is intended to help those seafarers and their families cope with the resulting pain and anguish.Funded by the ITF (International Transport Workers' Federation) Seafarers' Trust charity and The TK Foundation, and chaired by Peter Swift, formerly MD of industry body INTERTANKO, the new programme speaks for an alliance of shipowners, trade unions, managers, manning agents, insurers and welfare associations representing the entire shipping industry, from crews to owners.Its mission is to aid seafarers who have been or may be subject to pirate attack. Somali-based pirates now regularly treat hostage seafarers with extreme violence in order to put pressure on their families and/or employers to expedite their ransom demands. This includes phoning family members and making the seafarer plead for his life while he is abused and threatened with death, and filming this and posting it online for relatives to see.Peter Swift, MPHRP chair, ...

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ITF: Third East Asia week of action h as begun

26 to 30 September at major ports in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia ITF inspectors and members of seafarer and docker unions has begun a week of action (26 to 30 September) at major ports in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Russia. Staggered weeks of action are being held in Indian and Sri Lanka in September, November and December, with inspections taking place this week in Cochin, Chennai, Colombo and Tuticorin.The action - the third this year - is linked to the ITF's flags of convenience and ports of convenience campaigns, and will focus on the condition and provision of lifesaving and cargo- related equipment, as well as on crew terms and conditions.In Japan, checks will be made at the port of Mishima-Kawanoe following reports of injuries, particularly among casual workers working long shifts there. Trade unionists will rally outside the premises of shipowner Kotoku Kaiun, which has refused to sign ITF agreements, as well as in front of the head office of Dowa Line in Tokyo.In Korea, activities will take place at the ports of Pusan, Incheon and Ulsan, followed by rallies at Pohang, Pusan and Incheon in support of the ILWU union's struggle to represent workers at the Port ...

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ITF Unions initiate campaign for seafarers’ and dockers’ rights

To ensure that no ships visiting ports are manned by exploited seafarers Seafarers' and dockers' unions in India and Sri Lanka will once again set out to ensure that no ships visiting their ports are manned by exploited seafarers.Staggered weeks of action are being organised this year in September, November and December, with inspections taking place this week (26-30 September) in Cochin, Chennai, Colombo and Tuticorin ports. ITF inspectors/contacts and activists of seafarers' and dockers' unions will inspect ships flying flags of convenience (FOCs) to ensure safe working and crew conditions on board.Inspection will also be carried out at all the private terminals at these four ports. Inspectors and port union leaders will also aim to highlight and mobilise on the plight of contract workers at private port terminals and denial of trade union rights and negotiated working conditions for them.This is in line with the historical solidarity that exists between the port and dock workers and seafarers globally and which manifests itself in the current ITF FOC-POC (ports of convenience) campaign.Source: ITF

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Australian ITF raises concerns over alleged crew bashings

The seafarers refuse to sign a sub-standard industrial agreement from the owners ITF Australia is highly concerned about the welfare of at least two crew members onboard the BP Chartered "Britto" after receiving cries for help this morning.The Panamanian registered FOC tanker had been working on the Australian coast, servicing BP's domesticfuel trade under an ITF International Minimum Standards Agreement for its Filipino, Bangladeshi and Korean crew.The ITF has been called on to protect at least two seafarers who have allegedly been bashed onboard for refusing to sign a sub-standard industrial agreement from the ship's Korean owners. It was further reported that other crew were threaten be thrown overboard by the ship's master if they did not comply.Representatives from theITF have exposed the dark history of the ship, which has been trading under Australian government permits to Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne, Geelong, Port Botanyand Adelaide.On two occasions, the ship owners have been forced to pay significant back wages to the crew and on at least one occasion the ITF understands that the crews were forced to repay their wages back to the captain."This is the real cost of Flag of Convenience (FOC) shipping in our domestic trade - unpaid wages, stand ...

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A three-year pay deal for seafarers has been agreed

After negotiations in the International Bargaining Forum on July A three-year pay deal for seafarers has been agreed following negotiations in the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) between representatives of the ITF and the employers' Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) in Miami, USA on 27 and 28 July.The three-year deal covering all IBF agreements takes effect from 1 January 2012 and will mean a 2% pay increase on 1 January 2012, a further 2.5% increase on 1 January 2013 and a final 3% increase on 1 January 2014.The percentage increase will be applied to an element that includes both pay and union funding. However, the specifics of the application of the increases between officer and rating categories and funding elements will be decided at local negotiations between individual union affiliates and the employers.As well as further aspects of the collective bargaining agreement discussed during their talks, including dealing with bullying and harassment, the IBF also debated piracy and agreed a revised text on warlike operations/high risk areas.For further details see press release on - www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/6266/region/1/section/0/order/1Source: ITF

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ITF campaigns against irresponsible ship owners

The call is coming on the heels of boat tragedies The International Transport workers Federation (ITF) has called on all transport workers unions particularly in Russia to support the ITF campaign against irresponsible ship owners and operators, who, in the pursuit of short-term profit, who daily jeopardise the safety and lives of both passengers and transport workers.The call is coming on the heels of boat tragedies, particularly in Russia, where a tourist vessel "The Bulgaria" sank in the River Volga on July 10, killing 120 people on board.The campaign followed media reports that the ship's operator held no passenger licence, and that the vessel had been overloaded, besides an allegation that one of its engines was not functioning.ITF Russia representative, Mikhail Lyakhov lamented that "the situation arouses serious concern, because the majority of vessels of this class in Russia are aged over 30 years - The Bulgaria was in fact built in 1955."He added that, "In this tragic moment we express our solidarity with the transport workers of Russia and with all people of Russia."In a letter expressing condolences to the families of victims, ITF General Secretary, David Cockroft expressed hope that there would be a proper investigation into the ...

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Port health inspectors at Southampton are joining industrial action

Workers represented by the ITF-affiliated Unite and Unison unions The ITF has asked its inspectors to notify port state control in the countries in which they are based of any approaching cruise ships that have left the Port of Southampton without getting a health certificate. Port unions will also be notified.Port health inspectors at Southampton are joining industrial action taking place across the city to resist plans by its Conservative-led council to force all municipal workers into pay cuts and inferior conditions. The council plans to issue all municipal workers with dismissal letters and a new contract to sign within 90 days or be sacked.Workers represented by the ITF-affiliated Unite and Unison unions are taking industrial action, including port health inspectors, who issue health certificates to all shipping using the port, as well as checking food imports into the UK.The ITF is instructing its inspectors after learning that some cruise ships are likely to attempt to break the strike by leaving the port without a health certificate in the hope of obtaining one in their next port.Source: ITF

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Australian prosecution for underpayment of oil rig workers

These workers were being paid around $3 an hour The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Australian Workers Union (AWU) have welcomed the decision by the Fair Work Ombudsman to prosecute three companies, and one company director, over more than Aus$120,000 in alleged underpayments of four Filipino nationals who worked on oilrigs off Western Australia.Union activists members of the MUA-AWU Offshore Alliance discoveredthat these workers were being paid around $3 an hour, less than a high school student working at McDonald's, says the Alliance.Paul Howes, AWU national secretary, said that foreign workers on Australias offshore oilrigs, must be treated with respect and decency, and able to earn the same wages Australians would expect for the job.Source: ITF

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