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Port Welfare Committees – Can they be an Indian success story?

December 19, 2019
Delegates 3

On 20 November 2019, ISWAN and its International Port Welfare Partnership Programme (IPWP) held a workshop in Mumbai on the benefits of port welfare committees (PWCs) and how they can help seafarers in ports.

About 50 delegates were present at the workshop following ISWAN’s 2019 Seminar the previous day. Brandt Wagner, Head of Transport and Maritime Unit at the International Labour Organization (ILO), opened the session and stressed the mandatory reporting aspect of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC) for ratifying states including shore-based welfare facilities. Mr. Rao, Managing Director of the Indian Ports Association, spoke of his experience at Kandla and of the need to support seafarers’ welfare in the port.

The benefits and process of forming a PWC were presented by Sharon Coveney of the UK Merchant Navy Welfare Board, responsible for 16 PWCs. Amos Kuje of the National Seafarers’ Welfare Board of Nigeria followed with an account of the practical issues of setting up new PWCs in West Africa from his own experience in the region. Capt. Srinivas, Deputy Conservator at Kandla Port, provided a case study of Kandla seafarers’ centre and PWC involvement in its formation and support with a port levy and provision of space within the port area at nominal rent.

Sharon Coveney of the MNWB introducing ISWAN's IPWP Programme

In the second part of the workshop, delegates split into six groups to discuss two questions about the challenges to forming and sustaining a PWC and how to overcome these challenges. ISWAN Trustee Michael Pinto asked delegates to consider the Indian context and to come up with sensible proposals for getting a PWC up and running. After the session, Mr. Pinto highlighted the points to take forward, including:

  • A directive should be made for the major ports to have an active PWC and assist seafarers in order to be compliant with the ILO MLC 2006
  • The Port Chairman or Deputy Chairman should be encouraged to take the chair of the PWC to initiate the process
  • ‘Champions’ are needed to take forward the PWC agenda to benefit seafarers in each port
  • A small port levy (e.g. INR 1,000 to 2,000 per ship call) is needed in each port. Ports could have the facility to discount this if necessary
  • Transparency / efficiency of finances can be achieved by using existing port finance departments
  • A system of training for seafarers’ welfare workers is needed and there are existing ISWAN templates for this

Photos from the IPWP Workshop can be found here. More information about ISWAN’s IPWP programme can be found at portwelfare.org. If you are interested in setting up a PWC, please complete the short form on the Contact Us page.

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