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Nautilus advocates for safer seas as industry addresses bullying and harassment

14 March 2024

Nautilus has provided input as a social partner on bullying and harassment issues to a joint meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) Tripartite Working Group.

After the meeting, the IMO announced it is developing training requirements to combat bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, in the maritime sector.

The Union's head of international relations Danny McGowan was one of three industry vice chairs at the meeting, which took place from 27 to 29 February 2024. It considered future steps needed to combat bullying and harassment at sea, covering legislation, mechanisms and policies for reporting and addressing bullying and harassment – including sexual assault and sexual harassment – in the maritime sector.

The Working Group also considered draft amendments to the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). The findings and recommendations from the meeting be submitted to the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee at its next meeting in May 2024 and to the ILO Governing Body.

Delegates at the ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group

'The recommendations that were made by consensus at the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group are a step in the right direction to dealing with violence and harassment, including sexual assault, bullying and sexual harassment in the maritime industry. By looking at instruments such as STCW, and at the ISM Code, alongside conventions such as the Maritime Labour Convention and C190, we have ensured that this will remain an important safety matter and seafarer issue to be considered in both the IMO and ILO,' Mr McGowan said.

'We look forward to continuing to work with shipowners and governments to put these recommendations into action for the benefit of all seafarers, on all ships, and creating a safe working culture of zero tolerance for these behaviours.'

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IMO secretary-general addresses seafarer issues

IMO secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez addressed the 10th session of the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping (HTW 10) on 5 February 2024.

The Sub-Committee plays a pivotal role in ensuring seafarers are well-prepared for a new developments such as emerging technologies, alternative energy sources, and various risks and threats at sea.

Amidst concerns about the situation in the Red Sea, Dominguez reiterated the importance of respecting navigational rights and freedom for merchant vessels in accordance with international law. Urgent calls for caution and restraint were made, along with a plea for the immediate release of the Galaxy Leader and its crew.

Mr Dominguez then shifted to the topic of a Just Transition, pledging to uphold the highest safety standards in the face of challenges such as climate change, technological advancements, AI and emerging threats to shipping. The work of the Sub-Committee will emphasize the re-skilling and re-educating of seafarers to ensure a 'competent workforce and a smooth and just transition into a new era of maritime transport.' A specific focus was placed on the revision of Model Course 1.21 to incorporate competence in preventing and responding to bullying and harassment.

The efforts of the Sub-Committee align with Nautilus's commitments as the Union prioritised championing a Just Transition in its 2023 General Meeting, as well as tackling bullying and harassment.

Image: IMO secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez (R) at the Sub-Committee meeting/ Wikimedia Commons


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