Nautilus Council member Captain Stephen Gudgeon.
Nautilus International secured unanimous support of the TUC Congress yesterday for its campaign to secure tougher controls against the threats posed by asbestos on ships.
Delegates at the TUC’s annual conference in Manchester voted in support of a Nautilus motion expressing concern at the continued presence of asbestos on ships – despite international rules introduced in 2002 to prevent its use.
Union Council member Captain Stephen Gudgeon moved the motion and told the meeting how Nautilus was horrified to find asbestos in more than 3,500 parts onboard a new ship last year. 'And one classification society recently revealed the deadly material was detected on 95% of ships checked in the last four years,' he adds.
'The problem even affects ships that have been certified as asbestos-free – sometimes because they were built with the material present in components, and because the substance may have been introduced through spare parts,' Capt Gudgeon says.
‘Shipping is the most international of all industries, and our worry is that asbestos is still commonly used in more than 100 countries around the world.
Capt Gudgeon adds that seafarers face a very real risk of exposure to asbestos during repair or maintenance and big efforts need to be made to raise awareness among crews, shipowners and regulatory authorities. He told how the Australian government recently took a stand against non-compliance by refusing entry to vessels containing asbestos – and says other governments should do the same.
'The maritime industry is still responsible for exposing its workers to asbestos and thus creating victims for decades ahead,’ he adds. It’s just not good enough, and we need your support to ensure that our members – and seafarers worldwide – are protected.'