IT WOULD take a 24-hour worldwide strike by shipping to bring to global attention the importance of shipping to the world economy and the plight of seafarers held captive in Somalia, Roberto Giorgi, president of InterManager and V. Ships told the Informa Ship Management Conference in Cyprus.
“It will not happen of course, as it would be impossible to co-ordinate,” he said in his unscripted keynote address. He was lamenting the fact that during his recent travels, everywhere people were enraptured by the rescue of the Chilean miners trapped underground, but “no-one was talking about or probably even aware of the hundreds of seafarers being held by pirates”.
He said that in the shipping industry piracy was the main topic of conversation and it was encouraging that industry organisations and trades unions have come together to campaign for more action to mitigate the impact on ships and seafarers.
“There are more than 20 shipping industry organisations, which is too many, but they are all behind action to support the rights of seafarers on this issue. Collectively we are much stronger than we think and could do more to defend the rights of seafarers.”
He acknowledged that some sections of the shipping industry could do more to protect seafarers from piracy, such as applying the internationally agreed guidelines and providing shipboard security, although he remained opposed to arming seafarers.
Mr Giorgi also called for stronger action, including regulation, to provide berths for cadets onboard ships. “We need to create more space on ships for cadets. Minimum manning rules need to be revisited to include provision for cadets and to make it a requirement for new ships to include space for cadets and training. In addition, owners should not be penalised such as through port charges for the space onboard used for cadet accommodation and training. This might require new rules to be agreed by the International Maritime Organization.”
The world has been taking the shipping industry for granted. Period.