Our SeafarerHelp Team are trained to deal with a variety of cases calmly and effectively. Sometimes they deal with the case themselves and other times they will refer it to other organisations to assist. The cases the team deal with can vary from simple requests for information, wages issues, repatriation, emotional problems, or issues such as a health problems or a death on board.

In some cases, a seafarer’s situation may need financial support. In desperate cases, where no other help is available, the Seafarers Emergency Fund (SEF) can be applied for. The SEF can make grants from $250 to $5000 US dollars. Applications must be made by organisations on behalf of seafarers in dire need and they must meet the SEF criteria.

One such case was Samuel*. Samuel had been working on board a vessel, but had not received any wages for over 7 months. 21 other crewmembers were also left without wages. Having received assistance from the ITF, the vessel was eventually detained in port under the terms of the MLC 2006. The crew had taken the ship-owners to court to try and claim their wages, but in the meantime were living in the local seafarer centre, supported by the ITF inspector and the local mission. Samuel was a long way from home, and had no way to support his family.

Samuel’s daughter was very ill with cancer. She had been receiving chemotherapy, but without Samuel’s wages, the family could no longer afford to pay for her essential medical treatment. The ITF and the seaman’s union from Samuels’s home country made the application to the SEF on behalf of Samuel and his family. The application was granted, and $5000 dollars was paid to the hospital where the daughter was receiving treatment.  The hospital continued her medical care and she was discharged from hospital not long after.

If you or a family member are a seafarer in distress orhave some other problem visitwww.seafarerhelp.organd we will do our best to help.

For more information about our work visit

For more information about the Seafarer Emergency Fund, and how to apply, visit here

*name has been changed for privacy

The Seafarers Hospital Society has joined forces with Big White Wall to fund a new online mental health and wellbeing service for serving merchant seafarers. Launched on 1st June 2016, the new service is open to all UK- based merchant navy personnel. It's free, safe, supportive and anonymous, and is available 24/7 via an online portal. It includes information, self-help resources, a supportive community, and one-to-one help from trained counsellors.

Launching the new service, Peter Coulson, SHS Secretary said: "We talk openly about some of the physical challenges of working at sea but mental health and wellbeing is a topic we find harder to discuss. One in four people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and seafarers are no different – in fact they are probably under more pressure than most. Whether it's general stress and anxiety, or feelings of depression, it can be hard to know what to do and difficult to know who to talk to. We recognise that and we want to do something about it, which is why we're funding this new service in partnership with Big White Wall."

Big White Wall is an anonymous online support service where merchant navy officers and ratings can access information and tools, talk to like-minded people and seek advice from professionals about things that are worrying them. Help is available on a wide range of issues, whether it's coping with stress, reducing alcohol intake or dealing with depression – BWW gives men and women in the merchant navy a chance to talk about what's worrying them.

Big White Wall works across many different sectors, providing services to the NHS, Armed Forces, universities and many employers. 70% of users report improved wellbeing, including reduced isolation, with almost half sharing something for the first time. One commented, "Big White Wall's community is wonderful. Everyone is so supportive. It helps to know that others are going through similar things."

Tina Trenkler, UK President at Big White Wall, said: "We offer free support to the Armed Forces so we understand the sorts of pressures that merchant seafarers will be faced with, and we know how difficult it can be to get help or even just to talk about some of these issues. We offer a unique combination of services from online information and courses, to peer support and one-to-one counselling. And we cover a wide range of issues, from managing anxiety and depression to quitting smoking or healthy eating. So whatever the problem you're struggling with Big White Wall can help. Access is easy and it really does work."

Access to the new service is via the SHS website. Users will be asked to complete a short questionnaire to confirm their eligibility and will then be directed to the Big White Wall site. This process is entirely anonymous.

For more information email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

. The Seafarers Hospital Society is a charity that has been caring for the health and welfare of seafarers since 1821.
. For more information about SHS go to www.seahospital.org.uk.
. Big White Wall is an anonymous online community of people who are experiencing common mental health and wellbeing problems such as feeling down, depressed, anxious or stressed. Trained counsellors are on hand at all times to moderate and facilitate the service. Big White Wall is registered with the Care Quality Commission.
. Big White Wall has reached over 40,000 people to date and is commissioned to reach thousands more. It was founded in 2007, and now operates in areas across the UK, as well as in the US and New Zealand.
. For more information, go to www.bigwhitewall.com

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. Email:www.itfglobal.org.uk

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. www.itfglobal.org.uk. Twitter: https://twitter.com/ITFglobalunion. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ITFglobal


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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 https://www.portwelfare.org/contact-us--.html

For further information on the project view  www.portwelfare.org 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.