The Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) coordinated the various groups and representatives, who were involved in a pilot project to improve the welfare services and support made available to seafarers when they call at different ports around the world.
This project was part of a world-wide initiative of the International Seafarers’ Welfare Assistance Network (ISWAN) funded by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Seafarers’ Trust.
Under this project, the Antigua and Barbuda Port Welfare Committee (ABPWC) was established on November 17, 2015.
The committee seeks to provide a forum where representatives from organisations that deal with the welfare of seafarers, can meet to discuss and co-ordinate their actions and aims for a collaborative and holistic approach to providing assistance and support to seafarers visiting or residing in Antigua and Barbuda.
The committee, which is chaired by Mr. Darion Lake, meets regularly (at least three times per year) to discuss and resolve seafarers’ welfare issues with representatives from relevant organisations such as the Port Authority, Labour Department, trade unions, maritime administration, shipping owners, shipping agents and voluntary organisations.
The other members of the PWC are Mr. Colin Plummer, vice chairman, and Ms. Annabel Fuller, administrator. The PWC is intended to cover all the ports in Antigua and Barbuda and cover the interests of not just merchant seafarers on visiting cargo and cruise ships, but also those involved in the local small commercial vessels, the commercial yachting and fishing industries.
In addition to the large number of seafarers visiting the islands there are many others working on over 1000 internationally trading merchant ships registered in Antigua and Barbuda. The PWC recognises the importance of bringing together representatives from the local maritime community to support and improve seafarers’ welfare facilities and services.
The Port Welfare initiative is predicated on the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has ratified the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC); Regulation 4.4 of MLC that covers access to shore-based welfare facilities and its associated standards and guidelines. The MLC states that “the purpose of this regulation is to ensure that seafarers working on board a ship have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being.” The convention also states that:
1. Each member shall ensure that shore-based welfare facilities, where they exist, are easily accessible. The member shall also promote the development of welfare facilities, such as those listed in the code, in designated ports to provide seafarers on ships that are in its ports with access to adequate welfare facilities and services.
2. The responsibilities of each member with respect to shore-based facilities such as welfare, cultural, recreational and information facilities and services, are set out in the code.
The MLC is a major step towards improving seafarer’s welfare, helping them and their families to feel more connected and better protected. Therefore, it was important for ADOMS to take the necessary measures to support the formation of a Port Welfare Committee.
A Seafarers Services Survey Questionnaire was undertaken to establish seafarers’ needs more accurately in an effort to improve the services offered to them at ports in Antigua and Barbuda with emphasis on their expectations. •
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