“Seafarers are human. They are not simply labourers nor expendable commodities. Respect for seafarers, and seafarers’ respect for themselves, should be nurtured to enable seafarers to improve the quality of their lives.”
Nataliya Yefrimenko, Odessa-based ITF Inspector, conveyed the warm regards of the ITF and its local affliliates to the ICMA Regional Conference. Yefrimenko represented both the ITF and the ITF Seafarers Trust at ICMA’s Black Sea Mediterranean and Middle East Regional Conference in Odessa. The ITF Seafarers Trust made the Regional Conference possible by awarding ICMA a generous grant .
Giving a short overview of the history of the ITF Seafarers Trust, its operations and current structure, and alluding to its strategic review, Ms Yefrimenko said:
The welfare of seafarers requires the partnership of all organisations with the wellbeing of seafarers at heart.
The ITF and its Trust is committed to assisting those who help seafarers. The Trust supports SeafarerHelp (the global 24-hour multi-lingual helpline for seafarers in distress), the MPHRP (the industry’s response to the humanitarian needs of piracy survivors), the HIV/AIDS Project (and other health and safety initiatives), mobility and communication initiatives (including mini-buses, shore leave issues, access to port welfare services and -facilities, Wifi and internet access, phone cards, etc.) and Seafarers’ Rights International, among others.
Quoting David Cockroft, she said: The ITF Seafarers Trust coordinates global work to meet the complex welfare needs of seafarers. She added that Steve Cotton has said that the strategic review currently in process at the ITF Seafarers Trust, will be responsive to the welfare needs of seafarers as outlined by the MLC 2006.
Yefrimenko said that with 137 ITF inspectors worldwide and ICMA members’ coverage of more than 500 global ports, seafarers benefit from ITF and ICMA’s valued partnership. Our shared human approach to seafarers, settling disputes and solving problems and fulfilling needs improve the lives of seafarers.
She said: The future goal of the ITF Seafarers Trust is improved support for seafarers. Not to leave seafarers in the victim-valley. From our different perspectives we all help seafarers. And, like ICMA chaplains, ITF Inspectors have a prescribed and limited role.
Yefrimenko urged ITF affiliates to help improve chaplains’ access to seafarers.
Oleg Grigoryuk, First Vice Chair of the Marine Transport Workers Union of Ukraine also warmly welcomed ICMA to Odessa and the Ukraine. Grigoryuk praised ICMA’s commitment to the wellbeing of Ukrainian seafarers in ports all over the world.
A lively discussion ensued after Yefrimenko’s presentation, demonstrating the dire need for more bilateral contact, discussion, debate and collaborative problem solving in the interest of seafarers. Chaplains were invited to refer suggestions for improved welfare provision to the ITF’s strategic review.