ITF, International Labour Organization

ILO: Women, Young Seafarers to Gain More Access to Industry

The International Labour Organization (ILO) unveiled a plan to make the maritime profession more attractive and accessible to young and women seafarers only days ahead of the International Women’s Day 2019.

Illustration. Image Courtesy: ITF

In a roadmap that was agreed at the event in Geneva, Switzerland, which took place from February 25 to March 1, representatives from more than 40 countries in addition to social partners further identified ways of addressing the gap in recruitment and retention of seafarers.

As noted by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), this was the first time ever at an ILO meeting the three spokespeople representing the ship owners, the seafarers and the governments were all women, namely, Kathy Metcalf, President & CEO of the Chamber of Shipping of America, Lena Dyring, ITF Seafarers’ Section Women Transport Workers’ Representative and Mayte Medina, Chief, Office of Merchant Mariner Credential, US Coast Guard.

The three days of discussion addressed a number of topics, including those facing cadets, trainees and women in gaining access to the industry, automation and digitalisation, recruitment and placement, abandonment, shore leaves, mental distress and many more.

The meeting concluded that the roadmap ahead would include stakeholders taking a proactive role in ensuring facilitation of shore leave and the establishment of seafarers’ welfare committees. Allowing cadets, trainees, young seafarers and women to gain the necessary sea time for licencing was included.

What is more, the roadmap calls for the repatriation of abandoned seafarers and discharge their obligations in timely manner toward seafarers in case of criminalisation piracy and armed robbery.

In addition, the meeting recommended that the ILO convene a tripartite meeting with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to consider issues common to seafarers including training and certification, the promotion of the ratification of MLC 2006 and the effective implementation of its provisions, and mapping out the number of women and their distribution in the industry the provision by the ship owner of internet access for seafarers at no or reasonable costs.

The meeting also addressed the major issues young seafarers face when joining the industry which include social communication, shore leave, training and sea time.

“We have asked for a structured campaign to be launched by the ILO with the support of the social partners, and we have looked at the alignment of school and training curriculum to provide the right skills necessary to be the seafarers of the future,” Dorotea Zec, ITF Seafarers’ Section Young Transport Workers’ representative, said.