"If we stand strong in these difficult times, we will win": Ukrainian Maritime Forum took place in London

On June 14, 2024, the Ukrainian Maritime Forum was held in London, organized by the Marine Transport Workers' Trade Union of Ukraine with the support of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the State Service for Maritime, Inland Waterway Transport and Shipping of Ukraine.

The event brought together about one hundred participants from the global maritime industry, including officials from the ITF, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and permanent representatives of a number of states to the IMO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), representatives of leading shipowners and their associations, maritime educational institutions, seafarers' unions and charitable organizations.

The event's main topic was "Ukrainian Seafarers – your professional partners for safe navigation".

The Forum aims to provide all maritime stakeholders with a vision of Ukraine's future sustainable development as a key provider of highly qualified, motivated, and talented maritime professionals and a future-oriented maritime economy open to investment in maritime education, research and development, maritime digital technologies, and other maritime sectors.

IMO Secretary-General Arsenio Dominguez expressed his strong support for all seafarers, including Ukrainian seafarers, and the MTWTU. "I continue to be inspired by the dedication and resilience of seafarers. Their work is crucial for the global economy, and it is imperative that we continue to promote their rights and well-being," Dominguez stated. "Without seafarers, there is no shipping, there is no shopping. I urge everyone to join our campaign to support seafarers and recognize their indispensable role in our daily lives."

The Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Gilbert F. Hongbo, delivered a heartfelt address to the participants. He called for international solidarity and support for Ukraine, emphasizing the importance of unity in these difficult times, and expressed deep concern for workers and communities affected by the ongoing conflict.

Stephen Cotton, ITF Secretary-General, said, "This Forum has provided an important discussion on how we can protect our industry and secure Ukraine's future in the wake of this terrible conflict. Our support goes out to all our friends in Ukraine who have shown incredible bravery. The contribution of Ukrainian seafarers deserves our respect and recognition."

Oleg Grygoriuk, MTWTU Chairman, expressed gratitude to international partners for the solidarity and inexhaustible support provided to Ukrainian seafarers and MTWTU members during the war. He emphasized the importance of this support for ensuring stability and sustainability in Ukraine's maritime sector. "I feel deeply grateful for every gesture of support, every kind word and every action aimed at helping our seafarers and maritime transport workers. Your solidarity gives us strength and faith in the future. I believe that if we can withstand these difficult times, we will win. Help us, support us, and together we will achieve even greater success."

In his address to the representatives of international organizations and shipowners, Yevhenii Ihnatenko, Head of the State Service for Maritime, Inland Waterway Transport and Shipping of Ukraine, emphasized the importance of partners' support for Ukrainian specialists and ensuring the safety of navigation in the Black and Azov Seas. He emphasized, "Ukrainians risk their lives every day working to ensure the food security of the global community.

I believe that qualified Ukrainian seafarers are a "win-win" strategy for everyone. In this way, the resources and potential of maritime nations will be used effectively. Ukrainian specialists contribute to the development of shipping every day from all over the world, while russian seafarers continue to violate the IMO's basic principle of "Safety First".

Within the Ukrainian Maritime Forum framework, the Marine Transport Workers' Trade Union of Ukraine and the State Service for Maritime, Inland Waterway Transport and Shipping of Ukraine signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. This document confirms the joint efforts and partnership to create conditions for the protection of labour and social rights of Ukrainian maritime transport workers. As part of the Memorandum, the parties undertake to develop opportunities to acquire professional competencies that meet the current and future requirements of international conventions in the field of merchant shipping.

Special attention is also devoted to assisting Ukrainian seafarers who encounter crises while working on merchant ships. This cooperation will help protect the seafarers' rights and ensure their safety and professional development.

"The Memorandum is an important step forward for the entire maritime industry of Ukraine, emphasizing the readiness of government agencies and trade union organizations to work together to achieve common goals and ensure decent working conditions for every seafarer," said Oleg Grygoriuk, MTWTU Chairman.

Several meaningful panel discussions took place during the Forum. These included opportunities in maritime Ukraine, the impact of the war in Ukraine on shipping and the international and national response, and the welfare of Ukrainian seafarers and their families.

A new website was also presented at the event: an information resource that demonstrates the exceptional advantages of Ukrainian seafarers in the maritime industry. Carefully selected and presented information provides a detailed insight into their qualifications, experience and invaluable contribution to global shipping (https://ukrseafarers.pro/).

The Forum highlighted Ukraine's significant role in the global maritime industry and demonstrated the potential for growth through digital transformation and investment. The discussions highlighted the resilience and professionalism of Ukrainian seafarers, the importance of adopting new technologies in maritime education and the benefits of investing in Ukraine's maritime industry. The need to continue supporting Ukrainian seafarers and their families in a challenging situation was also focused on.

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