Nautilus International has published updated guidance to members on their maternity, paternity and parental rights as seafarers.

The revisions expand previous advice on a wide range of issues relating to maternity, paternity and parental rights, and reflect associated increased statutory payments. They also provide practical guidance on the special considerations that must be given to new or expectant mothers who work at night, and actions that must be taken under health and safety regulations if there are deemed to be risks associated with certain working conditions and hours of work.

The guide contains a revised 'need help' section which gives a brief overview of how to take your claims to UK employment tribunals, as well as handy links to further sources of information.

The updated Nautilus booklet also reflects the new M-notice relating to expectant mothers in the Merchant Navy and fishing vessels issued by the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency — MGN 522, which replaces MGN 460.

General secretary Mark Dickinson outlined the importance of the guide: 'Nautilus believes that, in order to grow and prosper, the UK maritime industry should be open and welcoming to male and female workers, and make allowances for people's lives to change as they get older. Seafarers should, as a matter of principle, receive the same basic levels of employment protection that their shore-side colleagues enjoy.'

The guidance has been written with a focus on UK rights for new and expectant mothers, and UK paternity and parental rights and will mainly apply to seafarers working on UK-flagged vessels — but it should also be noted that many of these rights also apply to adoptive parents. If in doubt members should contact the Union for specific advice.

For those serving on non-UK vessels, the guide explains there are other sources of rights, depending on the individual's circumstances. Such rights may derive from the flag state, country of residence, collective bargaining agreements or company staff handbook or maternity/paternity policies.

Due to the nature of their work — often moving regularly between various countries — seafarers can face jurisdictional barriers in accessing employment-related rights. However it should be noted that the UK's maternity and paternity rights derive from EU law, so any seafarer serving on an European Economic Area (EEA)- registered vessel, residing in the EU or working for an EEA employer, may qualify for such rights in the relevant EEA member state. Members wanting further information about their own situation are advised to contact their industrial organiser in the first instance.

Nautilus director of legal services Charles Boyle said: 'It is hoped our members find the new guide useful, and we welcome any feedback.

Two introductory events were organised in Malaysia in the week of 22nd August 2016. ISWAN / MPHRP participated in awareness sessions which were hosted by IKMAL (the Marine Department of the Government of Malaysia, association of professionals), MYMET (Maritime Educational Training Institute Association) and Johor Port Authority.

Training was opened in Port Klang on 23rd August by IKMAL president Dato' Abdul Jamil b. Murshid. Dato' Baharin b. Dato' Abdul Hamid, the Director General Department of Shipping followed with the keynote address on the importance of humanitarian response towards maritime piracy incidentsin Malaysia. He applauded the efforts undertaken by MPHRP in supporting seafarer's welfare issues and noted the continued need of this support given the recent kidnapping of Malaysian seafarers recently.

The training was provided by Capt. Abdul Aziz Abdullah, Chirag Bahri and a panel session including representatives of Mymet, IKMAL and the Marine Department. The presentations aimed to raise awareness of the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Programme (MPHRP), the International Seafarers' Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and the training programmes and resources provided for the survivors of piracy and their families.

Chirag spoke about his ordeal while he was held by Somali pirates for nearly eight months and referred to other case histories of seafarers and their families facing the horrifying ordeal of piracy. About 50 people attended, among them officials from the Department of Shipping, Malaysian Navy and Coast Guard, Marine Police, manning agencies, trainers from maritime institutes and trade union representatives.

The next event was held in Miri, Sarawak on 25th August, where smaller tug boats and offshore supply vessels are vulnerable to the increase in pirate activity in the Sabah region and Sulu Sea. The event drew the attention of 20 local ship owners and trainers as they wish to be better prepared with humanitarian assistance during and following an incident.

ISWAN / MPHRP are thankful to all the organisers of the event for coming together to invite the programme to Malaysia and the support and wishes of all the participants who attended these events. This could not have happened without the support of IKMAL and Seafarers UK.

meeting with DG Marine Department

The International Transport Workers' Federation has pledged solidarity with Nautilus NL/FNV Waterbouw – its Dutch affiliate – in its fights to stop maritime and energy giant Boskalis sacking skilled seafarers and downgrading the quality of jobs.
The company plans to cut 650 jobs worldwide, including 150 in the Netherlands, and scrap 24 ships despite making EUR440 million profit in 2015 and EUR148 million in the first half of 2016.

In the Netherlands, Fairmount Marine - a wholly owned subsidiary of Boskalis – is attempting to replace permanent seafaring officers with lower paid nationals by outsourcing its entire ship management and crewing to Anglo Eastern.

So far Boskalis and Fairmount have refused requests from Nautilus NL/FNV Waterbouw to see the financial data that the company says justifies its plan.

ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith said: "Boskalis continues to make a healthy profit, so it is clear that this is another case of crude social dumping – using highly vulnerable workers to do skilled work for low pay. The company plans to use this attack on seafarers to cut salaries, but with no regard for the impact on workers. The ITF is fully behind Nautilus NL/FNV Waterbouw in opposing and exposing these actions, which are bad for workers and bad for good business.

General secretary of Nautilus International Mark Dickinson said: "If there has to be redundancies as a result of declining volumes of work, then Boskalis should show us the financial data proving this. Then we can work with the company to ensure that the workers affected are redeployed - something that should be easy for a global company like Boskalis that employs more than 8,000 people. Until they do this we will fight this proposal and we welcome the backing of the ITF."

For more information contact Andy Khan-Gordon on tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9282 / +44 (0)77 1135 6964.

THE INTERNATIONAL TRANSPORT WORKERS' FEDERATION (ITF): ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London, SE1 1DR. Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 2733. Fax: +44 (0)20 7357 7871. Twitter: Facebook:


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State agencies are continuing to work closely with Commonwealth and welfare agencies to assist the crew of a coal ship, detained off Gladstone, who are caught up in a dispute over wages, conditions and fuel supplies. The Honourable Mark Bailey (Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports, and Minister for Energy, Biofuels and Water Supply)  said ensuring the welfare of local and visiting seafarers is the right thing to do.

"I commend Gladstone Ports Corporation for their prompt response to provide support and assistance to ensure the welfare of the crew of the bulk carrier, Five Stars Fujian," Mr Bailey said. "Maritime Safety Queensland is also closely monitoring the ship through its Gladstone Vessel Traffic Service and its close working relationship with Australian Maritime Safety Authority."

The Hong Kong flagged ship is being detained by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) due to breaches of the Maritime Labour Convention relating to lack of food supplies and unpaid crew wages. The vessel was loaded at the Port of Hay Point, south of Mackay in Queensland.

Mr Bailey said Gladstone Ports Corporation provided a launch for Australian Maritime Safety Authority officers to inspect the vessel and deliver some food last Friday. "The port has also organised for the pilot transfer helicopter to provide interim food supplies to the vessel yesterday while AMSA secures a charter vessel to transport more significant amounts of additional food to the vessel's crew," he said. "Gladstone Port Corporation will continue to work together with AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland, the Gladstone Mission to Seafarers and other relevant authorities and organisations to provide support and assistance wherever it can to ensure the welfare of the crew."

Mr Bailey condemned the heartless and inhumane disregard for the welfare of crew members by the ship owners. "No seafarer should be abandoned by the employer on the other side of the globe, let alone be left without basic provisions. It's shameful and disrespectful behaviour," he said.

Mr Bailey commended AMSA on the timely and thorough manner in which the situation was being managed. He also recognised International Transport Workers Federation for providing valuable input and support protecting the interests of the seafarers.

Mr Bailey said the Gladstone Port Welfare Committee process, which was established last year to develop a collaborative approach to providing assistance and support to seafarers visiting the Port of Gladstone, has worked well in effectively managing the situation.

The Gladstone Port Welfare Committee (PWC) was the first welfare board to be formed, in accordance with MLC 2006, as part of the ISWAN International Port Welfare Partnership (IPWP) pilot project in 2015/16. The IPWP pilot project will expand to become a 3 year programme with effect from January 2017.  Ports interested in joining the programme should submit an ‘expression of interest’ via the ‘Contact Us’ webpage

For further information on the project view or contact Helen van Gass, Programme Administrator  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Seafarers' Rights International (SRI) in association with the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has produced a short, informative film intended to raise awareness of the risks of seafarers being abandoned. Drawing on situations where seafarers have been abandoned, international law and the Maritime Labour Convention 2006, the film explains the blight of abandonment and what is being done about the problem, and provides information on how seafarers who are abandoned can get access to support and advice.


More information can be found on the website here

See excerpts from the International Seafarers' Welfare Awards here, including speeches from the winners, and IMO Secretary-General Mr Kitack Lim

Watch highlights from the ISWAN Day of the Seafarer Celeration held on Saturday 25 June at the SMX Convention Center in Manila. The event was attended by over 2,500 seafarers, maritime cadets, and their families. The IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim, attended and spoke the event. See here for more details.

Four Cambodian seafarers were among the crew of the Naham3, which was captured by Somali pirates off Seychelles in March 2012. They have been released from captivity on 22 October 2016, and will be back in Cambodia reunited with their families very soon. The story below was written about the family of one of the men while they were still in captivity, and can now be published.

Mr. Ngem Soksan lived in Dokpor village in Kampong Chnang province. He went to work as a seafarer in 2010, to support his wife and small daughter. Arriving in Japan in October 2010, Mr Soksan rang his wife to let her know he had arrived safely and was intending to become a fiN Housesherman. In November in another call, he let his wife know that he was finding life extremely difficult. After this, his phone was cut off.

Later in November 2012 she received the call to inform her he had been captured by pirates. He was highly distressed, being held hostage in a forest with pirates. He said: ' I live like in hell, maybe I don't survive to go back to Cambodia at all so, don't wait for me...' Then she received no further news.

Left without their husband and father, on top of their distress his family had little money to survive. Without an income or land to cultivate, their living situation worsened each day. "I and my daughter are still alive through selling my labor wage for a daily life" Sopheap added. Left with no choice, after 6 months of poverty she had to remove her daughter from school to become a garment worker. Sopheak is 12, and is 2 years behind in her education as a result. She had only 2 school uniforms and no books or study materials.

Sopheap asked her brother to build a small living area on his land. Her and her daughter lived in a small cottage made from bamboo and palm leaf. The walls of the cottage were fragile and offered no privacy. There was no clean water, and no electricity. At night time they used lamps and petrol. The house was not safe. When it rained the house was damp, and it was often very cold at night. They lived on $80 a month, using it for rice and basic food, transport and medicine. Sometimes they could only afford sweetened rice for lunch.N family

MPHRP/ISWAN has worked with Caritas Cambodia to build a safe and warm house and provide materials for Sopheak's education. Mrs. Apinya Tajit, Vice-Chairperson ISWAN South East Asia (SEA), organised the application and distribution of funds.

The new house is 4m wide and 7m long and completely built from cement (wall and the ground floor) and the roof is covered with the zinc-iron. In the house, there are separate bedrooms and living spaces. A bicycle, school uniforms, shoes, bag, writing books and study materials have been provided to support to Sopheak. Sopheak was very excited; she can now get to school on time and has no need to walk or borrow a bicycle from neighbours, and has 2 good clean uniforms to wear, as well as enough study materials for the whole year.

Sopheap and Sopheak celebrated their new house on 14 July 2016. During the celebration they invited the commune leader, village leader and neighbours. After a blessing from the Buddhist Monk the celebrations began.

Commune leader and village leader, would like to express their feelings and thanks to Mrs. Apinya, ISWAN, PSFF and Caritas Cambodia that helped this vulnerable family to have proper shelter and the opportunity for study.

Kong Sopheap 41 years old, wife and Tom Sopheak, daughter, speaking in July 2014 before the release of their Ngem:

We are feeling very excited to hearing that my husband still alive. We don't know how to express our feeling besides of raise our hand up and seeking your understanding and please help and release him to be back home in order to live with us with peace and harmonization. Because we are really poor we don't have anything to give back to all of you at all.

I and my daughter were living far away from my husband for so long, we feel missed him so much. We really need him to be back home to complete our family's life and give us warm, give us shadow, taking a good care for us and supporting us. Especially my daughter she is so young and strongly need the care from parents mainly father, also she needs to continue to study too.

Brothers and sisters, please help to lobby the pirates and help to release my husband. I do hope that my husband can come home very soon.
I and my daughter really deep thanks to everybody that have help us a lot, your helping not only house and materials but you all make me feel warm, give us hope and proud for the future life. We pray for you all to have good health, success in your duty and please kindly help my husband to come back home safely soon. We will never forget everything you help but we will take a good care of this house and waiting for my husband and father to come and living as a family all together.

Kong Sopheap

My name is San Sothorn, I am older brother of Ngem but we have different mother.

I always thought that my youngest brother was passed away since 2012, because he called us he has no chance to be back to Cambodia while the pirates arrested him. But now I feel so excited to hear that he still alive.

I beg to the pirate please soon allow my brother to come home and please all of you who come here helping him to reunite his family. House he was living with family, right now no person to stay in but we still keep it and waiting him to come for reunites the family.

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Yasendy kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.

"Hello, my name is Yasendy. I am from Colon, Panama and I am currently Chief Officer on a cruise line.

My fascination with the sea started when I was 15 years old, went traveled with a group of "Quinceañeras" (in English means fifteen-year-old girls), on board a cruise ship to celebrate our birthday. After that incredible voyage, I fell in love with the sea and cruise ships, so I stated that one day I would be back as a merchant officer.

When the time arrived to go to the university, I was decided and graduated successfully to start my career as Deck Officer. I had a great opportunity to work on tankers sailing in Argentina and met wonderful people that trained me during my cadet period. After that had joined the cruise ships and recently I was promoted to Chief Officer. Now I have a nine years career at sea.

The journey hasn't been easy; I have many difficult situations and challenges to overcome. Like everything in life, they are good and bad people, some that help you, but other that put your obstacles. All in all, there is always a positive lesson to learn, but one thing is that I love the sea. It makes me feel free, makes me feel like dolphins swimming to different destinations, and there is nothing more enjoyable than the view of the sunrise and sunset and the stars or moon while you are at sea. It is just perfect to admire the beautiful God´s creation.
If you follow your dreams, if you loved what you do; you would enjoy life and be happy.

I would like to advise young women never to give up and fight for your dreams; people will always try to choose what is the best for you, but you have to listen to your heart and do what you love not what other think is better for you. Follow your dreams and may you Captain Jesus to be your guide.

Thanks for collecting stories of women at sea. It makes me so proud to see other female colleagues succeed in this career."