ISWAN Holds Seminar on Port Levies and the MLC, 2006

Participants at the seminar Participants at the seminar ISWAN

The ISWAN seminar on port levies and welfare provisions in the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, held at The Baltic Exchange in London on 21 May 2013, brought together representatives from welfare organisations, shipping companies, unions, government, and academics to share and promote good practice on levies. The seminar heard different views from India, South Africa and UK on how levies can be set up and operated, and how challenges can be addressed through building relationships and collaboration between port authorities, welfare organisations and ship agents.

The report, Port levies and sustainable welfare for seafarers, commissioned by ISWAN was launched at the seminar. This report documents good practice on levies, and includes case studies on Kandla Port, India; Port of Balitimore, USA; Constantza Port, Romania; Ports of Tees and Hartlepool, UK; Port of Bremerhaven, Germany; and Port of Saldanha Bay, South Africa. It was evident from presentations and from the report, that funding from levies makes a vital contribution to the running of welfare services and facilities for seafarers, helping providers to plan service delivery and retain committed staff.

Presentations were given by Ben Bailey (Mission to Seafarers); Alexe Finlay (Secretary of the Tees & Hartlepool Port Users Association, UK); Dave MacDonald (Terminal Manager, ConocoPhilips, and Chairman, Tees and Hartlepool Port Users Association); Peter McEwen (Senior Policy Advisor, Nautilus International); Natalie Shaw (Director of Employment Affairs, International Chamber of Shipping); Duncan Starke (Committee Member of Mission to Seafarers, Durban); and Olivia Swift (author of Port levies and sustainable welfare for seafarers, and Research Associate, Greenwich Maritime Institute).

At the seminar, there was consensus that transparent administration of levies; having a robust decision making body; and being accountable for how levies are spent through reporting, were some factors essential to good practice. Most importantly, levy supported services had to meet the welfare needs of seafarers. Developing quality standards for welfare services was also discussed and the potential for this considered.

However, some speakers and participants also emphasised that levies should be part of wider fundraising efforts, and care should be taken to ensure that levies do not lead to governments and shipping companies not fulfilling their existing obligations on welfare. But also, from the perspective of shipping companies, that some companies choose to contribute in other ways, for example, making donations directly to a charity or mission.

A report on the seminar will be available in the next fortnight. A selection of presentations can be viewed below.

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