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Success for Baltic week of action

At least 268 vessels inspected and US$100,000 retrieved in wages owed to crew The ITF's week of action in Baltic Sea ports ended with at least 268 vessels inspected in the 10 countries involved, and getting on for US$100,000 retrieved in wages owed to crew.The action week, 10-14 October, involved inspectors and seafarer and dockworker union activists in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden. More than US$86,400 was recovered in back pay owed to crewmembers in the first three days aloneThe week ended with at least a further US$7,090 in wages retrieved. ITF agreements were also signed or renewed on several vessels, and US$18,000 collected for the ITF welfare fund. The MSC Fabiola containership was boycotted while it was in Hamburg, as part of the action - the German owner then agreed to sign an ITF agreement for the ship, as well as to sign three new agreements and renew seven expired ones for other ships in its fleet.Source: ITF

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Piracy soars but fewer hijacks

According to figures from the International Maritime Bureau There have been a record number of pirate attacks but anti-piracy measures have been successful in reducing hijacks, according to figures from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).The IMB's latest global piracy report shows that Somali pirates were behind 56% of the 352 attacks worldwide reported in the first nine months of 2011 - 199 compared with 126 in the same period of 2010.However, despite the increase in attacks, the pirates have been less successful, hijacking 24 vessels in 2011 to date compared with 35 in the same period of 2010 - representing a 12% success rate compared with 28%.The IMB credits this reduction in hijackings to "policing and interventions by international naval forces, correct application of the industry's latest Best Management Practice - including the careful consideration of the crews' retreat to a 'citadel' - and other onboard security measures".However, the human cost of piracy worldwide had seen 625 people taken hostage with eight killed and 41 injured.As well as more attacks in the Red Sea during the monsoon season in the Indian Ocean, IMB warns that the West African coast off Benin is seeing a surge in violent piracy. While there ...

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Baltic week of action retrieves back pay for crew

More than US$86,400 already recovered in back pay owed to crewmembers The ITF's week of action in Baltic Sea ports, from 10-14 October, saw inspectors and seafarer and dockworker union activists board ships in ports in 10 countries to check on wages and conditions for crews.The action, which took place in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden, follows on from recent similar action weeks in East Asia, India and Sri Lanka.Almost 200 vessels were visited in just the first three days of the action week, with more than US$86,400 already recovered in back pay owed to crewmembers. Inspectors found some cases where seafarers were working on cargo handling. Inspectors have also been pursuing collective agreements with ships not yet signed up to the ITF collective bargaining agreement and renewing cases where they have lapsed.The action got extensive media coverage in many of the countries involved.Source: ITF

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Seafarers begin programme of action in Greek ports

To stave off an attack on maritime jobs, pay and pensions Seafarers are starting a rolling programme of action in Greek ports to stave off an attack on maritime jobs, pay and pensions.The workers, represented by the ITF-affiliated Pan-Hellenic Seamen's Federation (PNO), have announced that the programme of 48-hour strikes will start on 17 October. The action responds to the Greek government's attack on maritime workers' employment and pensions rights and follows a series of talks with politicians that ended in deadlock.The union is demanding that the government safeguard current and future job opportunities in the industry, retain social benefits, including pensions, and upgrade maritime training and retraining activities. It also wants the ship owners to re-enter national collective bargaining negotiations so that wages can be upgraded.John Halas, general secretary of PNO, said: "Greek seafarers are determined to defend with dynamism their rights from the cruel attack of the Greek government and will not allow the extermination of Greek seafaring, with a thousand years of history and contribution to the nation."Source: ITF

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ITF survey sets unions seafarer communications challenge

The project surveyed 1000 seafarers to find out the best ways for communication Research commissioned by the ITF Seafarers' Trust has highlighted the need for trade unions to embrace electronic means of communication with their seafarer members. Carried out by London Metropolitan University's Working Lives Research Institute, the project surveyed 1000 seafarers to find out the best ways to contact them, and how they communicated at sea and on land.The survey once again underlined the importance of email and web access to seafarers. Among its major findings were:Over half of all respondents were union members, but only a third of them were in regular contact with their unions. Awareness of the ITF was high, with seventy percent reading the organisation's Seafarers' Bulletin magazine.The best opportunity for communicating with seafarers was either when they were at home or on shore leave. The most popular ways for seafarers to communicate with their friends and family while at sea was by phone from seafarers' centres (85 per cent), through mobile phone calls (82 per cent) and via SMS (74 per cent).Onboard access to email has risen three-fold since 2007 but remains limited. Fifty two per cent of seafarers, and 68 per cent of ...

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Project funding in south-east Asia brings benefits to seafarers

1.4 million in funding over four years is helping seafarers The welfare of seafarers based in south-east Asian countries is being improved thanks to a welcome injection of cash from the ITF Seafarers' Trust.Unionists attending the south-east Asia welfare committee meeting held on 5 and 6 October in Singapore, described how the 1.4 million in funding over four years is helping seafarers in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. In particular grants are going towards funding vehicles to transport seafarers, ship visiting and communication equipment and to support welfare workers and existing centres.An important component of the programme has been the establishment of new welfare boards such as those in Singapore. These have been formed successfully in Cambodia and Taiwan, and advanced in Thailand, where they did not exist before. Through the active involvement of ITF maritime unions in the region, the boards are responsible for receiving funds and handling projects that assist seafarers.Unionists called for the programme to continue to a second phase of consolidation.Tom Holmer, administrative officer of the trust, said "We have all been pleased with the results, including the new board and seafarers' welfare project in Shianoukville, Cambodia, the first grant we have ...

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Solidarity against menace of FOC vessels urged

ITF Flag of Convenience Action week The ITF Flag of Convenience Action week at Kochi Port concluded here with a call to strengthen solidarity between seafarers, dockers' unions and also various stakeholders, such as the Port State Control, Port Authorities, ship owners and crewing companies, against the menace of FOC vessels.As advised by Asia/Pacific Regional Office, Delhi, the Cochin Port Staff Association organized various union activities to strengthen the ITF Flags of Convenience Campaign during the Staggered Week of Action at the Southern Ports of India and Sri Lanka.In order to increase awareness among the public, a rally and valedictory function were held. The activists from National Union of Seafarers of India, Forward Seamen Union of India, Members of Maritime Union of India and Merchant Navy Welfare Officers Association participated in the rally.Speaking on the occasion, Capt Paul N. Joseph, Deputy Conservator, Cochin Port Trust pointed out that that 60 per cent tonnage of the world are Flags of Convenience. All FOC are not wrong. Citing an example, he said the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Maersk maintain their vessels and the crew above ITF standards. The ITF should strive to make a genuine link with the Flag they fly ...

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World Maritime Day highlights piracy and seafarers’ rights

WMD on 29 September 2011, was celebrated by the maritime community worldwide World Maritime Day, 29 September 2011, was celebrated by the maritime community worldwide.The International Maritime Organization (IMO) chose "Piracy: orchestrating the response" as the theme, "to highlight and reflect upon the efforts made to meet the challenges of modern-day piracy".In London, England, the event was marked by the launch of a new cross-industry programme to support seafarers and their families affected by piracy, Maritime Piracy: a Humanitarian Response - see:http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/6455In his World Maritime Day message, IMO secretary-general Efthimios E Mitropoulos said that "no effort should be spared" to rid the seas of piracy. As well as preventative action by shipping companies, governments needed to deploy the military and other resources needed to deal with the problem, he said."More needs to be done, including the capture, prosecution and punishment of all those involved in piracy; the tracing of ransom money; and the confiscation of proceeds of crime derived from hijacked ships, if the ultimate goal of consigning piracy to the realms of history is to be achieved."In the Philippines, National Maritime Week, including World Maritime Day, was marked by calls on the government to ratify the Maritime Labour Convention ...

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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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