ITF Inspectorate Team Expanded: Charged and Ready

Eleven more ITF Inspectors have undergone the Induction Program in the ITF House in London, UK. They are now fully prepared to embrace their new roles and fight for the rights of seafarers worldwide while fostering solidarity with global trade unions and maritime stakeholders.

In February, this event brought together newcomers from diverse corners of the globe. Prospective ITF Inspectors from the United Kingdom, Kenya, Senegal, Italy, Turkey, India and Cyprus united to partake in four weeks of training, equipping themselves with the latest knowledge and skills essential for their forthcoming responsibilities. Following this intensive program, they took on their respective duties, ready to keep the ITF's standards across their ports worldwide.

During the initial two weeks and the final one of training, future inspectors grasped the crucial topics essential to their roles. These included comprehensive insights into ITF activities and policies, the role of collective bargaining agreements, the Seafarers' Bill of Rights - the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006) and the operation of Port State Control. Moreover, valuable insights and understanding came from the sessions on the wages calculations, functions of P&I Clubs, class societies, legal training, HIV/AIDS matters, media activities and other relevant subjects. Several sessions were conducted with the valuable help of specialists from respective organizations, including representatives from Lloyds Register, the International Group of Maritime Insurers and legal experts. The facilitators shared helpful tips on effective preparation for inspections and provided hands-on experience by simulating various inspection scenarios during role-playing. Through these practical sessions, participants gained insights into the intricacies of conducting inspections, sharpening their skills and confidence for real-life inspections. During the third week, the class of eleven inspectors departed on a week-long field training session in different ports of Europe.

An important focus of the ITF's current policy is the active involvement of more women and youth within the maritime industry, particularly in the trade union movement and ITF inspectorate for safeguarding the rights of seafarers. The group of eleven future inspectors comprised three new females and three individuals under the age of 35, reflecting a concerted effort to promote diversity and youth engagement within this vital sector.

Peter Lahay, the course leader and a former seafarer with a lifelong commitment to union membership, shared thoughts on the current course and insights on how the training program has changed since his first course back in 1999.

"In my early days as an inspector, the opportunity to follow and be instructed by a more experienced inspector was uncommon. You'd be fortunate to spend even a single day learning the basics of the job, and then we were just learning with our own practices. However, nowadays, we managed to compress the wealth of knowledge I earned over years into an intensive four-week program."

"And I am proud to have reliable facilitators to train our future colleagues. These individuals are seasoned ITF Inspectors who bring both professionalism and friendliness to the table, coupled with a wealth of specialized knowledge and skills. While each facilitator may possess unique approaches and strategies in their work, they are united by a singular dedication: safeguarding the rights of seafarers. Even through their diversities as individuals, they make perfect synergy and create a supportive atmosphere crucial for training future inspectors."

Nataliya Yefrimenko, an ITF Inspector from Ukraine with over 27 years of working experience in Trade Union, performs as one of the course facilitators. Specifically, she conducts the session on the MLC, 2006, offering valuable insights and teaching others to self-study. Actively engaged in training programs for years already, Nataliya expresses her passion for being part of the facilitators' team and sharing her experience with aspiring inspectors.

"I heartily welcome new Inspectors to our team and wish each of them to succeed in their roles. I am happy to witness the increased involvement of more people in the ITF Inspectorate team. The primary benefit of this is the expanded access for seafarers to seek assistance from a broader network of inspectors across ports worldwide. It means increased protection of their rights, improved welfare standards, ensured wages, and enhanced working and living conditions."

With great enthusiasm, Nataliya also comments on the session she regularly conducts, "The Maritime Labour Convention is not only a primary tool for us as Inspectors but arguably one of the most vital conventions in the entire maritime industry. This document equips future inspectors with answers and guidance to nearly every question and situation they may encounter. However, I always emphasize that a good inspector has an innate sense of what is right and wrong for seafarers' welfare. Developing and maintaining this kind of intuition is invaluable."

In the third week, the team conducted inspections on the vessels calling various ports under the guidance of experienced colleagues. It was the opportunity for them to check seafarers' employment conditions, ensuring that wages were calculated and paid correctly and that working and living conditions were in line with the standards of the Maritime Labour Convention, applicable ITF Collective Bargaining Agreements, and other relevant regulatory frameworks.

The four-week course preparing the inspectors was truly remarkable, and undoubtedly, these individuals will make a big difference in the lives of men and women working at sea worldwide. Now, the paramount responsibility of new inspectors is to provide support to seafarers in distress; on a daily basis, to fight abuse and exploitation, injustice and impunity in the maritime industry; and to ensure dignity and respect for seafarers are secured.

We extend our heartfelt wishes for success to the new inspectors in carrying out their roles and unwavering commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of seafarers thus maintaining the highest standards of shipping. Let us stand together in solidarity in promoting positive change within the maritime community, ensuring a lasting and impactful transformation of the whole industry!

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