ITF Calls for Lashing Ban for Foreign Crew on St Lawrence River

Maersk PatrasIllustration. Source: Flickr - under the CC BY 2.0 license; Image by: Kees Torn

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has called on the Transport Canada to ban foreign-crew from undertaking lashing work while vessels are underway in the Saint Lawrence river.

The move comes on the back of an incident, that occurred on May 19, which took the life of a seafarer. Namely, the Sri Lankan second officer fell overboard the Maersk containership Patras in the morning hours. Despite an extensive search and rescue operation his body has not yet been recovered, ITF said.

Investigations undertaken by Transport Canada and the ITF indicate that the man fell overboard whilst lashing, and crew claim that he was the only crew member not wearing fall protection.

“Early reports indicated that this incident occurred while dropping a pilot ladder, however after speaking to the crew and investigating further, we’ve determined that’s not the case. This seafarer was handling a 4-meter lashing bar, almost half his weight, when he fell overboard,” Peter Lahay, ITF Canadian coordinator, said.

“We will await the finding of official inquiry but from our initial investigations there are serious questions about crew fatigue and the safety procedures on board that need to be answered.”

The ITF further said that it invited Maersk to join the global union federation in calling on Transport Canada and the Port of Montreal to ensure that lashing is done by qualified dockers.

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