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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

INTERTANKO & ITF hold Young Seafarers Focus Group Workshop

INTERTANKO and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) this week organised over three days in London a workshop for young serving seafarers to express their views on their career and life at sea, and on what attracts young people to the shipping industry and retains them there.


The "Young Seafarer’ Focus Group" consisted of 20 volunteers of seven different nationalities drawn from the membership of both associations. All were young, serving seafarers of all ranks and from all ship types; all were proud of being professional seafarers; all were active participants in the discussions.


The fundamental concept of the Workshop was to draw on their thoughts, to solicit their comments, their views and concerns, and their recommendations as a collective group, without influence from INTERTANKO or ITF. Their initial findings were discussed directly by them with heads of industry and then presented in person to the IMO Secretary General. We believe that these findings will provide additional stimulus within the industry to address attraction and retention issues.


The recruitment and retention of qualified seafarers is a matter of great and urgent ongoing concern to all shipping industry organisations and unions as well as to INTERTANKO Members. It is an issue that INTERTANKO has for some time believed needs urgent action. It was recognised by the Association’s Human Element in Shipping Committee (HEiSC) that, while many opinions are heard from various quarters within the industry about what needs to be addressed in order to attract young people to go to sea and stay at sea, the actual seafarers themselves had not been consulted at all in this process.


We therefore worked with the ITF to fix a way to ask them these questions directly, and thereby to establish the root causes of the current problems with recruitment and retention. The result was this 3-day workshop, listening to a group of young seafarers and learning from them. This puts us in a better position to understand what drives and motivates the young people who are our industry’s future, to respond their concerns and motivations, and to provide an attractive environment for those who have entered, or are about to enter, seafaring as a career. 


This initiative dovetails with the Go to Sea! campaign, which was set in motion my the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization.


The first day of the workshop was simply listening to and learning from these twenty young seafarers. On the second day, the workshop was joined by industry leaders -  Dr Swift (INTERTANKO’s Managing Director), Rob Lomas (INTERCARGO’s Secretary General), Andy Winbow (IMO’s Director of Administration), Mark Dickinson (Nautilus UK’s Assistant General Secretary) who engaged in an active dialogue with the group.


The workshop culminated with a meeting with the Secretary General of the IMO, Efthimios Mitropoulos. The preliminary views and recommendations of the young seafarers were expressed, after which a lengthy dialogue and discussion was enjoyed by all.


Two representatives from the group provided a summary statement with the conclusions and recommendations of the workshop.


Summary of the Workshop’s views:


"Sir, As serving seafarers we are proud of our profession and of being at sea and feel that we are performing important work in serving global trade and the industry. Consequently we have over the last few days discussed various issues and identified areas which we consider could be improved.


We are conscious of the fact the general public do not appear to recognise the importance of our work and early in our discussions it was identified that the image of the industry should be improved, which in turn will improve our status within society. 


Other issues discussed over the last few days identified several other areas where we have concerns and would like to see action at local, national and international levels: attracting people to go sea, the criminalisation of seafarers, piracy, the importance of shore leave access, onboard training, safety and security onboard, job security and employment-related issues, accommodation standards and onboard living conditions."


Summary of the Workshop’s recommendations:


"Sir, We wish to highlight some of our findings, conclusions and recommendations based on our own views and understanding as serving seafarers.


One of the major aspects relates to the ISPS Code which we believe unjustly identifies us a potential terrorists and criminal suspects and is also used in many cases as an argument for denying us our rights to shore leave in many countries around the world. We believe this is unacceptable and we urge IMO to promote more collaboration between administrations, ports and terminals to address the balance regarding ISPS requirements of ships. We would also recommend establishing an international reporting scheme to enable us to report cases where shore leave is denied.


Whilst we will not summarise all our recommendations today, one other object of particulat concern relates to piracy. We fully appreciate the efforts undertaken by IMO and all parties in deterring acts of piracy on the high seas. We urge the IMO to continue to exert pressure through the United Nations to eliminate acts of piracy.


A further main concern relates to the criminalisation of seafarers where we would like to see the guideline regarding the fair treatment of seafarers in the event of a maritime accident become mandatory."


The intention is to provide the IMO with a document which summarises all the Workshop’s discussions and its recommendations, which we hope will prove to be beneficial to all governments and industry representatives.


INTERTANKO’s Marine Manager Fredrik Larsson says, “This has been a wonderful and worthwhile exercise which has succeeded better than we dared hope. We extend our sincere thanks to all the excellent seafarers who attended. They were exemplary and a credit to their companies and profession. We also thank the Secretary General for meeting with us and listening to the seafarers.”


The INTERTANKO seafarers were drawn from Members who are on the Human Element in Shipping Committee (HEiSC), particularly Brostrom Tankers, OSG Ship Management and Teekay Shipping.


Contact: Howard Snaith   and   Fredrik Larsson