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Call for regulations to tackle fatigue at sea

6 August 2006

A campaign to bring in new regulations to tackle the problem of fatigue at sea – and the under-manning which is largely to blame for it – was launched today at the Joint Seafarers’ and Dockers’ Conference.

The aim is to persuade a sufficient number of governments of the need for action before the next meeting of the International Maritime Organisation’s training and watchkeeping sub-committee in January next year.

In the meantime the ITF has also commissioned a major study, to be undertaken by researchers at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, which will compare how various transport sectors strive to monitor and eliminate the problem.

Launching the initiative, Seafarers’ Section Assistant Secretary John Bainbridge said the ITF was extremely disappointed with the way that existing regulations were being enforced, especially as more countries now recognised that fatigue was a major factor in many maritime accidents.

The most obvious examples of unrealistic manning leading to fatigue were the two-bridge or solo watch systems, Bainbridge said.

Many companies were aware of the problems for seafarers caused by increased workloads and faster turn-rounds, he added. “Unfortunately, however, far too many flag states and shipping companies have ignored these negative pressures on the seafarer and determine manning levels based on competitive considerations.”

He went on to urge affiliated unions to send the ITF details of accidents or injuries to seafarers involving fatigue.

Dealing with other matters, the conference pledged support for the Panama Canal Pilots’ Association (PCPA) in its dispute with the Panama Canal. Delegates were told that the country’s labour relations board had reversed its previous backing for a complaint by the union and was now endorsing the behaviour of the canal authority.

Londor Rankin of the PCPA said that the “shameful” action of the board had placed employment rights at risk. “The tentacles of neo-liberalism have reached the Panama Canal and we are now seeing its effects.”




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ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk