Seafarers given no voice at World Maritime Day in Australia, ITF claims

(Left to Right) Mick Kinley, CEO, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Teresa Lloyd, CEO, Maritime Industry Australia Ltd, and, IMO secretary general Kitack Lim. Credit: AMSA

Despite a positive focus on gender equality in shipping during World Maritime Day in Australia, union International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) raised concerns about a lack of seafarer representatives at the Sydney event.

Chair of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim was keynote speaker at the World Maritime Day function, and he acknowledged gender equality in the industry, called for decent work for all, as well as highlighting the IMO initiatives to make ships greener and digital technologies safer.

“For shipping to be sustainable, it must draw talent from every corner of the globe and all parts of the population,” he said. “As part of the United Nations family, IMO’s vision and strategy is clearly aligned with global efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere.”

This year, the IMO made Empowering Women in the Maritime Community the theme for Maritime Day. However, Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers’ Federation boycotted the event after no women seafarers or unions were invited to speak at the Sydney event.

“The speakers list was not representative in IMO ILO [International Labour Organization or international maritime protocol,” he told Safety at Sea.  “The IMO is built on a tripartite model that brings together workers, employers, and government, but they didn’t contact the ITF for a view.”

The event was hosted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

“They invited three individual unions to sit there like wooden-headed muppets unable to give their views about a critical failure to open up seagoing jobs to half the population,” Crumlin said.

ITF Maritime Co-ordinator and former president of the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union Jacqueline Smith also accused AMSA of actively excluding seafarer representatives.

“It is estimated that only 2% of global seafarers are women,” she said. “But that will never change without the active input and involvement of workers in the industry.”

AMSA’s responded, saying it was extremely disappointing the ITF and Maritime Union (MUA) had chosen to try to politicise the event.

The AMSA spokesperson told Safety at Sea the speakers included leading women in the Australian maritime industry who hold important positions such as a harbour master, a maritime lawyer, and a naval architect.

“AMSA hopes that their stories encourage the next generation of women in the maritime sector,” she added.