Heindel Addresses International Maritime Forum

July 2010

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Heindel Addresses International Maritime Forum

SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel (center in photo above) on June 15 touched on several important topics during a meeting of U.S. maritime representatives and officials from the Consultative Shipping Group (CSG), which is composed of shipping administrations from more than a dozen countries.

Heindel, who also serves as first vice chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation Seafarers’ Section, was a featured panelist for the meeting, which took place at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. He discussed the need for the United States to ratify certain maritime labor conventions and also called for stronger international efforts to fight piracy.

Other featured speakers included U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari, Maritime Administrator David Matsuda and CSG Chairman Andreas Nordseth, who is the director general of the Danish Maritime Authority.

Heindel was invited to discuss some of the challenges facing maritime labor. He pointed out that even though nothing on the attention-grabbing scale of last year’s Maersk Alabama incident has occurred since then involving another U.S.-flag ship, the problem definitely hasn’t disappeared. In fact, it has grown.

“All ships sailing off the coast of eastern Africa and in the waters of the Indian Ocean keep on constant lookout for possible attacks,” he stated. “Every week, the reports come in that more vessels have been attacked, with some captured. Crews spend agonizing months docked in Somali ports as the pirates and ship’s owners haggle over the price of freedom.”

He said that although some of the potential solutions are complex, the bottom line is that governments must do everything possible to end this scourge.

Heindel also called for the U.S. to pass two International Labor Organization conventions. One is known as ILO 185, and it concerns a uniform identification credential for mariners. The other is the Consolidated Maritime Labor Convention, which the ITF has described as a “bill of rights for seafarers.”

“Both of these conventions from the ILO deserve support and ratification,” Heindel concluded. “The United States should take the lead in doing so in order that mariners around the world will have safer and better working conditions.”

The CSG includes representatives from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

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