Shipping & Shipbuilding News -  25 January 2008 - The Brightest Maritime Daily

Unions discuss FOC shipping with Irish ministers
ITF presses for collaboration over access to vessels...


A meeting with the Irish marine ministry last week focusing on flag of convenience shipping has paved the way for a closer working relationship between the ITF, its Irish affiliates and the Irish government.

The meeting took place at the ministry’s head office in Dublin on 17 January. It was attended by representatives from the Irish ITF-affiliated Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union (Siptu), ITF inspector Ken Fleming and the Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey. The head of the department and head of the Irish Coast Guard were also present.

During the discussions, ITF and Siptu representatives outlined International Labour Organization conventions relating to states’ responsibility to respond to seafarers’ requests for assistance. They explained how crucial this was in light of the number of seafarers who disappear without a trace – some 1,500 annually. Requests for assistance were frequently followed by the detention of a vessel, they said.

The debate also focused on ITF inspections and how in some cases the ITF was preventing from boarding vessels, in particular ships operated by Norfolk Line. Other issues discussed included the role of the health and safety authority and the port state control.

Fleming stated: “The meeting was very positive. The Minister quickly realised the grave consequences that could arise should we not be in a position to respond to a call for assistance from a seafarer in distress. He also stated that his department would investigate ways of assisting the ITF to gain entry to Norfolk Line’s facilities so that access to ships is not obstructed.

“We are hopeful that these discussions will lead to greater collaboration with the Irish government to tackle substandard shipping.”


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