by Jenny McPhee

Maritime unions and government maritime authorities from both sides of the Tasman joined various church groups in Wellington last month to discuss how to best help seafarers, fishers and their families in the south-west Pacific.

The result was an agreement to enhance collaboration of service between the bodies involved.

The meeting at the Home of Compassion in Island Bay in Wellington on August 18 was attended by the above groups as well as Australian and New Zealand representatives of the Mission to Seafarers (Anglican) and the Apostleship of the Sea (Catholic).

“We will work with port authorities and shipping companies, but our main priority will be the wellbeing of seafarers and fishers and their conditions of work,” noted a statement issued after the meeting.

“Safety of vessels, food and water, reasonable lighting and comfort, loading and cargo safety, fair pay and enhanced well-being will be our main focus.”

Faith-based organisations play a significant role in ensuring that the provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention (2006) are applied, because of the organisations’ close
relationship with seafarers.

The MLC came into force in New Zealand earlier this year, and is now applied in 56 countries.

AoS NZ national director Fr Jeff Drane, SM, said social justice is an important concern, as 95 per cent of world trade is through shipping.

“So our collaboration is even more important. Everyone agreed at the conference that despite different origins and perspectives this is now the right time to cooperate for the most exploited workers on the planet, especially since this was the intention behind the UN drafting the Maritime Labour Convention in 2006,” Fr Drane said.