Category Archives: Advocacy

(Geneva 17th February) ICMA Delegation Advocates for Mariners at ILO

ILO delegation(left) Rev Canon Ken Peters (right) Douglas Stevenson esq.

Douglas Stevenson writes:  ‘as chair of International Christian Maritime Association’s (ICMA) Standing Delegation to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), I, along with vice-chair Rev Canon Ken Peters, represented ICMA at two recent back-to-back meetings.ILO, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland creates international standards for decent working conditions. Unique among specialized agencies of the United Nations, the ILO includes representatives of trade unions and employers in addition to governments in its deliberations.

Seafarers’ welfare is a high priority item on the ILO maritime sector’s agenda. Because organizations connected to ICMA provide almost all seafarers’ services worldwide, the organization has—since its founding in 1969—played a prominent role as a non-governmental organization in ILO deliberations.

Meeting of the Maritime Labour Convention Special Tripartite Committee (STC)  The Special Tripartite Committee (STC) considered proposals to amend the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) that would …

  1. Require shipowners to pay seafarers’ wages while held captive by pirates
  2. Address shipboard harassment and bullying
  3. Extend the validity of MLC, 2006 inspection certificates in certain circumstances

ICMA strongly supported the principle of paying wages to seafarers while held captive by pirates, as did all virtually all other STC participants. The STC got bogged down, however, on agreeing to technical language acceptable to all. The STC created a tripartite working committee to prepare proposals, including amending the MLC, 2006 to address the issues related to protecting seafarers’ wages when held captive by acts of piracy and armed robbery. The working group is to present proposals to the STC before its next meeting.
The STC adopted a recommendation to amend the MLC, 2006 by including bullying and harassment in guidelines for health and safety protection. The STC also adopted a recommendation to amend the MLC, 2006 by allowing extensions of inspection certificates for up to five months in certain circumstances.

Ad Hoc Tripartite Maritime Committee for the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention     At the conclusion of the STC, the Ad Hoc Tripartite Maritime Committee for the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention convened to update the technical requirements for Seafarers’ Identity Documents issued under the Seafarers’ Identity Document Convention (ILO-185). The technology for biometric identification documents that existed when ILO-185 was adopted in 2003 is now obsolete, and card readers for that technology are no longer commercially available. The committee agreed to amend the annex to ILO-185 by adopting modern standards used in the aviation industry. While discussions around biometric standards were considered, it was heartening to hear statements by governments, unions and shipowners on the importance of ILO-185 in promoting seafarers’ shore leave access. The committee adopted a resolution on facilitating seafarers’ access to shore leave.

Ken and I briefed committee participants of seafarers’ shore leave issues observed by port chaplains, and we presented an introductory statement on behalf of ICMA during the committee’s plenary meeting.

Read the Statement to the Ad Hoc Tripartite Maritime Committee for the Seafarers’ Identity Documents Convention (Revised), 2003 (No. 185) here.

by Douglas B. Stevenson, Esq., Chairman of ICMA ILO delegation.

ENDS

Seafarer Welfare Organisations Call for Urgent Action on Rescue of Migrants at Sea

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Press Release – for immediate release 

14 March 2015

Three leading international seafarers’ welfare organisations, the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA), the International Maritime Health Association (IMHA), and the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN), are today calling on EU governments to recognise the key role of seafarers in the rescue of migrants at sea. They have sent a letter to all heads of governments urgently requesting that more resources are mobilised for search and rescue in the Mediterranean.

In the last seventeen months over 5,000 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Fortunately, merchant seafarers are responsible for saving tens of thousands of more lives. In 2014 seafarers aboard 800 merchant ships rescued 40,000 migrants. Their role in the large scale rescue of migrants should be recognised and commended.

However, EU governments are still relying on the kindness of seafarers and the legal obligations upon them to cope with a human tragedy of an unprecedented scale instead of committing sufficient resources to save migrants’ lives. Merchant ships and crews are not equipped or trained to deal with large scale rescues.

Seafarers are often risking their own safety and security in these large scale rescues. They are also facing situations such as recovering bodies and dealing with sick or injured men, women, and children that may have an effect on them for which they may need counselling or other forms of support. Seafarers are no substitute for professionally trained search and rescue personnel and they must not be used by EU governments as an expedient way of ignoring a difficult problem on the doorstep of Europe.

The three organisations have called for the EU governments to take urgent action to commit more resources to saving lives in the Mediterranean and not to place merchant seafarers in an unenviable situation.

ENDS

A copy of the letter can be downloaded from here (Press release migrants at sea).

Notes to editors

The International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) is a free association of 28 Christian not-for-profit organisations working for the welfare of seafarers. www.icma.as

The International Maritime Health Association (IMHA) is the sole international association concerned exclusively with Maritime Health www.imha.net

The International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) promotes the welfare of seafarers world. www.seafarerswelfare.org

Contact details :

ICMA – Revd Richard Kilgour gensec@icma.as

IMHA – Dr Alf-Magne Horneland alf.magne.horneland@helse-bergen.no

ISWAN – Roger Harris roger.harris@iswan.org.uk

Statement by German Seemannsmission concerning Mediterranean Migration Crisis

Stellungnahme der

Mitgliederversammlung der Deutschen Seemannsmission e.V.

24.04.2015

Nie mehr über Kinderrucksäcke fahren

In der täglichen Arbeit begegnen den Mitarbeitenden der Deutschen Seemannsmission immer wieder Seeleute, die durch die Flüchtlingstragödien im Mittelmeer besonders belastet sind.

Die Mitgliederversammlung der Deutschen Seemannsmission fordert, die aktuelle Flüchtlingsproblematik im Mittelmeer nicht auf dem Rücken der Seeleute auszutragen.

Besatzungsmitglieder berichten von persönlichen Habseligkeiten und Leichen, die im Mittelmeer treiben. Immer wieder müssen sie Menschen von Flüchtlingsbooten bergen. Das ist für Seeleute eine selbstverständliche humanitäre Aufgabe. Sie werden meist beim Umgang mit diesen belastenden Erlebnissen und deren Verarbeitung alleine gelassen.

Inzwischen haben Seeleute der Handelsschifffahrt schon mehr als 5000 Flüchtlinge gerettet.

Die DSM fordert: „Seht, was die Seeleute im Mittelmeer tun!“ Viel zu oft werden sie mit unvorstellbaren Erlebnissen konfrontiert. Kaum einer nimmt das wahr. Ein Seemann sagte zu einer Mitarbeiterin der DSM: “Ich möchte nie mehr mit meinem Schiff über Kinderrucksäcke fahren müssen.“

Seeleute und die DSM stellen die Frage, warum bis zum heutigen Tag keine adäquate Antwort der Politik zur Todesfalle Mittelmeer gefunden wurde.

Verantwortlich:

Heike Proske

Generalsekretärin der DSM

heike.proske@seemannsmission.org

ICMA and the International Port Welfare Partnership Project

PWPICMA is pleased to be on the Executive Committee of the new International Port Welfare Partnership Pilot Project.  This project is a way to increase knowledge and use of welfare boards as set out in the MLC, 2006. These boards include not only representatives of voluntary organizations like those represented in ICMA, but all other industry, labor and government representatives that might be necessary to serve adequately seafarers in that port or region.   Many areas might already have boards that correspond to the intentions for welfare boards of the MLC, 2006, but others do not. This pilot project will help a select group of ports or regions develop welfare boards with the hopes of developing ideas and experience that could mean healthy welfare boards could be found serving ports worldwide.

As the voluntary society representative on the project executive committee, ICMA has been closely involved in the process.  We can now announce the launch the portwelfare.org website. We encourage you to check out that website, especially the ‘voluntary organization’ tab under welfare providers.

With that website launched, we are at the perfect point, therefore, to get to know the project with our members and promote the idea of welfare boards per the MLC, 2006. Please check out the website and enter your details to show you are interested in knowing more!

ILO Meeting of Experts Concerning Convention No. 185

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This week the Rev. Ken Peters (MtS) and Mr. Douglas Stevenson (SCI), went to the International Labour Organization in Geneva to represent ICMA in further discussions about ILO 185. Below is the text of Mr. Stevenson’s statement:

International Labour Organization
Meeting of Experts concerning Convention No. 185
(Geneva 4-6 February 2015)
Statement by Douglas B. Stevenson

International Christian Maritime Organization
4 February 2015

Thank you Madam Chair for giving the International Christian Maritime Association to speak at this important meeting of experts. Congratulations on your election to the Chair.
The world’s economy and prosperity depends on merchant shipping and merchant shipping depends on seafarers.
According to UNCTAD there are 39,770 ships over 1,000 gross tons in the world’s merchant fleet. The fleet is expected to grow to 69,000 ships by the end of the decade. The need to recruit and retain enough skilled seafarers to operate the vessels needed to sustain commerce remains shipping’s biggest challenge. All of us who depend on shipping must help make seagoing careers attractive options for skilled men and women.
The MLC, 2006 and ILO-185 are designed to improve seafarers’ living and working conditions and, if widely implemented, will go a long way towards making seagoing careers attractive.
The MLC, 2006 recognizes the importance of seafarers’ shore leave and their having access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association’s 28 member organizations operating in 126 countries provide the vast majority of the onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services contemplated by the MLC, 2006.
ILO-185 provides the means to facilitate seafarers’ shore leave and access to onshore seafarers’ welfare facilities and services. The International Christian Maritime Association, therefore, strongly applauds and supports efforts by nations and social partners to develop measures that will encourage wider ratification and implementation of ILO-185.
An important feature of ILO-185 is Article 6, which provides for countries to allow shore leave to seafarers holding valid Seafarer Identity Documents – without their having to also have a visa.
One of the International Christian Maritime Association member organizations has, since 2002, conducted annual surveys of shore leave denials in the United States. According to the data collected in recent years by port chaplains in ports around the United States, about 10% of the foreign seafarers on ships arriving at United States ports were denied shore. Of the 10% who were denied shore leave, about 90% of them were denied shore leave because they did not have a visa. (The United States requires seafarers and aircrews to have a D-1 crewmember visa as a condition of entry.)
If anyone wants a copy of the most recent survey please let me or Ken Peters know.
Ratification of ILO-185 by the United States could certainly improve shore leave opportunities for seafarers in United States ports – provided that the seafarers have valid Seafarers Identity Documents.
Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, few nations have issued to their seafarers valid Seafarers’ Identity Documents that could serve as a substitute for a visa.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend amendments to ILO-185 that will facilitate its implementation.
In addition to facilitating shore leave and access to onshore seafarers welfare facilities and services, ILO-185 has the potential to greatly enhance security for seafarers and shipping. ILO-185 Seafarer Identity Documents will verify that the holders are legitimate seafarers who are entitled to the recognition and respect they deserve.
ILO-185 Seafarers Identity Documents will also identify seafarers as vital members of maritime security teams ,and they will help protect them from others who might pose as seafarers to do them and others harm.
ILO-185 is a very important convention for seafarers. It has the potential to provide seafarers greater protection and recognition, and it will help make seagoing careers more attractive options for skilled men and women by facilitating their access to onshore welfare facilities and shore leave.
The International Christian Maritime Association is hopeful that this Meeting of Experts will recommend measures that will encourage more countries to ratify ILO-185 and enable countries to implement it without reducing security or seafarers’ protections.
The International Christian Maritime Association delegation is here to assist the Meeting of Experts in any way that it can.

Collaboration is key to ICMA

It became apparent once again that the members of the International Christian Maritime Association (ICMA) benefit from our Association when individual members share expertise and publicly support one another’s goals.

David Dickens and Queen Elizabeth II
Commodore David Dickens with Queen Elizabeth II

Commodore David Dickens (The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishers), Alexander Campbell (Queen Victoria Seamen’s Rest) and Reverend Hennie la Grange (outgoing general secretary of ICMA) met at the QVSR in East London on Friday.

From the meeting it was clear that funding was increasingly difficult to find.  While funders have changed their funding priorities and have developed application procedures to ensure diligent grant giving, it has become tougher to get money for crucial services and emergency response.  It was floated that, perhaps, the changing needs of the welfare sector have not been recognised or understood by our traditional supporters.

While funders were reluctant to support hostel-style accommodation in London, the QVSR boasted 99% occupation levels each year. QVSR’s longer term residents from maritime backgrounds tended to resist being re-housed in council-supported private accommodation, as they needed the maritime feel of the Rest and its sense of community.  Years at sea have severed their links to onshore community life, and that is what the Seamen’s Rest is able to provide.

Similarly the Fisherman’s Mission has deepening concern for foreign seafarers working in fishing.  Recent incidents of foreign sailors incarcerated for being in the UK illegally, abandoned here due to failed contracts (a recent case highlighted by AOS GB), and of families abroad left destitute after loss of a fisher’s life, strengthens the Fishers Mission’s resolve to use the ICMA network internationally to reach these families, and to roll out assistance to international seafarers.

The leaders of RNMDSF and QVSR came away from the meeting committed to helping one another in matters of faith and resolved to collaborate on matters ofmutual interest.

IMO Secretary General visits seafarers on ships

Koji Sekimizu visits shipsMr. Koji Sekimizu, Secretary–General of the United Nations’ International Maritime Organisation (IMO), last week visited seafarers on ships at Tilbury in London.  Mr. Sekimizu was joined by chaplains from ICMA’s members who operate in Tilbury.  

The ship visitors spent time listening to the crew who shared their experiences of life at sea.

Mr. Sekimizu also heard from Deacon Paul Glock, port chaplain of the Apostleship of the Sea in Tilbury, how Paul supports seafarers from day to day.

ICMA’s members appreciate the Secretary General’s personal interest in seafarers and his understanding of the work that the faith-based missions do in ports to support seafarers.

Source: http://www.marinelink.com/news/secretarygeneral-visits356347.aspx

 

AOS speaks out on treatment of stranded fishermen

Maritime charity, the Apostleship of the Sea (AoS), has spoken out on the way seafarers and fishermen are treated when they run into problems with their UK visas.  These seafarers are never without the support of ICMA member, AoS Great Britain. 

AOS ChaplainRecently four foreign fishermen, two Filipino and two Indonesian, were stranded in Newcastle, UK , when the fishing boat they were working on hit financial difficulties. The ‘Starward’ was impounded due to the owner’s financial troubles.

The crew had not been paid salaries since March. This meant that they were not able to send money back home to their families in Indonesia and the Philippines, with one crew member relating how his children were going hungry. As the crew were only contracted to work on this particular vessel they were not able to transfer to another. Also, as they were working on transit visas, the UK Border Agency had them arrested in mid-June and they were taken to a detention centre.  They were subsequently transferred to a Heathrow detention centre where some of them remain.

Throughout this ordeal the crew have been helped and supported by the Apostleship of the Sea’s Tyne port chaplain, Paul Atkinson. Paul has provided practical and emotional support, working with the AoS national office to try to alleviate the men’s stress and ensure they are fairly treated.

Apostleship of the Sea National Director Martin Foley said,

‘The application of immigration rules to these men has taken no consideration of their circumstances. It is appalling that overseas fishing crews who are stranded in the UK through no fault of their own are treated like criminals and subjected to treatment that has demeaned and humiliated them.”

Seafarers are human too

Sea Faces 2Sea Faces 2013The IMO’s Day of the Seafarer 2013 campaign will reflect the human face of seafarers.

ICMA members have begun to participate by sending us photographs of seafarers plying their trade.  This photo is from Florin Garbea, Director of ICMA member LIFE International Ministries in Constantza, Rumania.  Florin himself visits ships and runs the local seafarers’ centre.  LIFE International will host this year’s ICMA Annual General Meeting in Bucharest.

This smiling seafarer affirms the positive attitude of seafarers who work to keep ships moving.  Seafarers are professionals. Seafarers are happy at doing their jobs.  Seafarers are a vital workforce.  Seafarers are real human beings.

Florin wrote:

Those pictures were taken in Constantza port this year, 2013, and remind us of the sacrifices that the seafarers make for all of us.  May God bless all seafarers around the world, their families and all the seafarers’ centres dedicated to the benefit of those who work on board.

The International Christian Maritime Association’s members continue to serve seafarers in every way we can.

 

Faces

With the recent announcement by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that “this year’s theme for Day of the Seafarer (25, June 2013) is ‘Faces of the Sea'”, ICMA invites you to send us images of seafarers. 

IMO explained that this year the theme brings into focus to the unsung heroes of shipping:  seafarers.  It aims to “spotlights the human face of shipping and the sacrifices that seafarers make.”

The IMO, quoted in MarineLink.com , said that it would be inviting seafarers to:

“Take a picture of yourself, or ask a colleague to take it, from a ship while working at sea or in port in a situation that surprises, or that inspires those that rarely consider what its like to be at sea. Post to any of the IMO’s social media channels, telling us how many days you have spent at sea this year and why you posted this picture.”

Let’s spread the word and join the fun.