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Unions and shipowners unite to promote seafarers' rights

London: The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), the International Shipping Federation (ISF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have launched a joint global initiative to combat what they see as a growing trend towards criminalisation of seafarers, especially in the case of incidents involving pollution.

At a press conference in London on February 1 the three bodies announced that they are taking a common stance to actively promote the 'Guidelines on the Fair Treatment of Seafarers in the Event of a Maritime Accident,' which were adopted by the International Maritime Organization and International Labour Organization in October 2006.

The Guidelines express inter alia the rights of seafarers to be spared intimidation during accident investigations and to be given access to legal and consular services, an interpreter, and contact with their family.
Idea for this 'charter of seafarers' rights' came about following the imprisonment without trial for several months of eight crew members of the tanker Tasman Spirit, which ran aground and spilled an estimated 27,000 tonnes of oil while entering the port of Karachi, Pakistan in July 2003.

A year after the IMO/ILO Guidelines were adopted, the ITF and ISF/ICS have joined together to publish  an initial 35,000 posters - in English and other main crew languages ?" informing seafarers of their rights. They are also encouraging their members - trade unions and national shipping associations respectively - to contact their governments asking them to promote and respect the Guidelines.

"This is a unique and historical moment with organisations representing workers and employers joining forces to communicate the message that 'seafarers have to be treated properly'," said ITF General Secretary David Cockroft.  [05/02/08] 

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