Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Praise for Largest Global Container Shipping Line for Behaviour During Pandemic

Good Report but Room for Improvement Says International Union Outfit
Shipping News Feature

DENMARK – WORLDWIDE – Doubtless Maersk executives were pleased today when they received their equivalent of a school report from global union representatives, despite a qualified 'could do better'.

The occasion was the AP Møller-Mærsk Annual General Meeting in Copenhagen, although like so many current events, participation was principally through the medium of video links. Despite one sour note the largest global container shipping company won plaudits for its actions during the pandemic.

At a time so many seafarers have been trapped on board or ashore by stifling regulations, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) in delivering its annual statement to the meeting said the company should be praised for its efforts to see crew regularly changed on board its ships through the difficulties of the present ‘crew change crisis’ caused by government border, travel and transit restrictions.

ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith said the ITF worked with Maersk around the world throughout the last year on Covid-related health and safety and remuneration issues. She said:

“Maersk has done an extraordinary job in leading the industry on crew change. While we’ve had a world of trouble with some charterers and the less scrupulous shipping companies passing the buck and refusing to help pay to end seafarers’ suffering, AP Møller-Mærsk stepped up and has shown regular crew change can be done.

“Our ongoing relationship with Maersk is about us pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves. We know that Maersk can be an even stronger global leader in shipping and transport by working with us to address areas where their local practice hasn’t matched their global commitments.”

It was not however all fulsome praise. The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is having a running battle with terminal handling group ICSTI over the running of its Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Melbourne, the ITF declaring it a ‘Port of Convenience’ back in 2018. The Philippine company stands accused of sacking those who sought union help and utilising non registered dock labour.

ICSTI does not have a good press record, with accusations of involvement in a variety of unsavoury practices with allegations ranging up to and including murder. Jacqueline Smith asked the meeting why the shipping giant signed up last year to utilise the VICT facility and continues to do business with the controversial terminal company when it had been undermining Australian collective agreements, saying:

“Maersk traditionally has good policies on paper and in the expectations it sets out for its suppliers, so we are surprised that the company seems to have developed a blind spot when it comes to upholding collective bargaining at Australia’s most aggressively anti-union container terminal.

“Maersk signed up to the UN Global Compact and its support for collective bargaining. We need to see that same commitment applied by Maersk throughout its supply chain, whether workers are directly employed with them or not. We ask Maersk to uphold its values and avoid VICT until the terminal and its parent company ICTSI end their hostility to workers and our rights. We will be raising this issue with Maersk leadership in coming weeks.”

Photo: APM Terminals Yokohama welcomes Maersk’s rainbow containers, celebrating diversity and inclusion in the maritime and port logistics sectors after they set off on a global tour this month.