ITF to Check Seaferers’ Working Conditions in East Asia

Inspectors of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have joined forces with dockers’ and seafarers’ union members in a campaign aimed at checking pay and working conditions on board vessels as part of the first East Asian maritime action week of 2016.

The action week will be held from 25 to 29 January across ports in Japan, Korea, Russia and Taiwan.

In addition, a rally will be held at the Kotoku Kaiun company in Japan over its refusal to talk with trade unions, the ITF said.

The campaign is being launched as shipowners and seafarers’ unions publish new international ‘Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying’.

These guidelines have been launched in advance of an important International Labour Organization (ILO) Special Tripartite Committee on the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), to be held in February in Geneva, at which ICS and ITF will co-ordinate the representation of the social partners alongside governments.

Under the ILO MLC, governments are already required to make sure that their laws and regulations respect the fundamental right of seafarers not to be discriminated against during their employment on board ships.

The guidelines provide advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, as well as the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers to use these procedures appropriately and for being aware of any harassment or bullying that might occur within the maritime workplace. This includes any instances of cyber-bullying.

“Bullying and harassment in the workplace are unacceptable wherever they happen – but they have a particular horror at sea, where those affected may be isolated and alone, hundreds of miles from home. Until now there has been a lack of practical common sense guidelines and we’re delighted that we have been able to work side by side with the ICS to address this need,” says ITF General Secretary, Steve Cotton.

The guidelines are now being distributed throughout the global shipping industry via ICS national shipowners’ associations and ITF union affiliates.

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