Latin America: New Network Launched to Respond Seafarers under Threat

seafarerIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

Unions from across Latin America have committed to jointly providing assistance and solidarity to seafarers in distress in Central and South American ports, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said. 

A meeting in Cartagena held last week culminated with the launch of the ITF Latin American Contact Network.

The ITF Latin American Contact Network follows the establishment of the Arab World network launched in January 2017 with the aim of developing a stronger structure of union contracts to handle calls for help and the coordination of cases where seafarers face exploitation.

Representatives from ITF affiliated unions in Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay participated in a two-day training course on April 4-5. The course focused on seafarers’ labor rights under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), ITF Agreements and the Flag of Convenience (FoC) system, and the role of the ITF Inspectorate in protecting seafarers’ working and living conditions.

As explained, the network would bolster the ITF’s capacity to enforce standards for employment conditions in the Latin American region and ensure that shipowners are complying with their obligations to provide decent pay, working conditions and living conditions on board.

“Our goal is to increase our capacity to provide credible support to seafarers who request assistance in these countries and also to assist with organising and intelligence gathering for all ITF maritime campaigns,” Steve Trowsdale, ITF Inspectorate Coordinator, commented.

“Across Latin America seafarers and dockers have been subject to attacks on their rights to safe and decent work, we will mobilise this network to respond to any worker under threat. We’re committed to defending the rights of exploited international seafarers, protecting seafarers working in their domestic trade and dockers doing the heavy lifting on the shoreside,” he added.

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