Monday, June 23, 2014

Seafarers Union Appeal for Freight Industry Wide Support to Establish One Agreed Shipping Standard

Annual IMO Event Used to Request Help in Developing a Fair Transport Mark
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – June 25 marks the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Day of the Seafarer, an annual opportunity for the public to remember that seafarers deliver more than 90% of the goods in the supermarket and say thanks for the safe delivery of the freight which keeps the wheels of society turning by transporting food and all manner of products internationally. Now Nautilus International, the union of maritime professionals, is calling on the industry to back a campaign to create decent working and living conditions for all seafarers on this special day by supporting its ‘Fair Transport Mark' campaign.

The Union is working to establish a Fair Transport Mark which would improve the visibility of the shipping industry, recognise quality ship operators and deliver decent working conditions for seafarers. The Fair Transport campaign is designed to be similar to the FairTrade Mark which promotes equality for developing world countries involved in global food production. This mark does not extend to the transportation of these goods and therefore even ships carrying FairTrade produce can be substandard.

The scheme has been bubbling along for a couple of years and has historic links with, and draws inspiration from, the seafarers branch of Swedish union SEKO which promotes the ‘Fair Bananas’ programme, set up to provide decent working conditions for those shipping the fruit across the world’s oceans. As with the FairTrade scheme, support is not confined to those involved with the carriage of cargo, these days all major companies are keen to support anything which reinforces their green and socially acceptable credentials, witness the number of companies signed up to Transport for London’s Freight Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS).

With around 10% of merchant vessels rated as substandard Nautilus therefore is looking to all industry stakeholders throughout the supply chain, from producers to consignees, to go a step further than simply recognising the contribution of the staff who keep the shipping sector running smoothly and ensure that all seafarers can enjoy the same standards of living and working conditions that shore-side workers enjoy. Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson, comments:

“Saying ‘Thank You’ is very important and we would encourage members of the public to take this opportunity to reflect on the amount that seafarers do to bring them their everyday goods. However, the maritime industry itself needs go further than just passing on their gratitude once a year. We all need to work together to ensure that all seafarers, where ever they work in the world, enjoy a decent standard of living. Therefore, Nautilus is calling on companies working in the maritime industry to support our Fair Transport campaign, and the establishment of a Fair Transport mark, to show that they provide their seafarers with good conditions and encourage other companies to do likewise.”