How to make the European maritime transport sector a generator of wealth and European jobs? That was one of the core topics of discussion at the Seafarers Matter Conference hosted by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) on Tuesday morning 28 February 2017, in the midst of the European Shipping Week (ESW) activities in the Steigenberger Wiltchers’ Hotel. A preview of the long-awaited animated film called Seafarers Matter inspired round table discussions involving EU decision makers, academics, employers’ and seafarers’ representatives.
The European Shipping Week presented an occasion for all maritime stakeholders to discuss the future of European maritime transport policies. With the Conference ETF puts the spotlight on who embodies this future best, seafarers. The ESW would fall short if it were to overlook the crucial role played by the European seafaring workforce in ensuring the preservation of the European maritime know-how and the vitality of the maritime clusters across the EU.
The Conference aimed to enter into a vast debate on how to make the sector fair and strong at the same time. “The social aspects of shipping require continuous efforts; this is critical as Europe wants to preserve the employment of EU maritime related staff. The February 2017 Conference “Seafarers Matter” is a unique opportunity to advocate for this twofold ambition” says Alain Vidalies, the French Minister for Transport, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries who honoured the conference with his presence.
Taking place the day after a joint European maritime social partners’ event involving both ETF and ECSA, the Seafarers Matter Conference drew attention to the fact that solutions aimed at safeguarding and developing European maritime employment are not receiving the attention they deserve.
"Seafarers are by nature a very specific category of workers. But is it a reason for denying them the social protection and the labour rights they deserve to ensure the highest level of quality for the European shipping sector? The answer is clearly no. In order to enhance the blue economy that we are all calling for, we need a competitive sector that provides high standard of protection and training for the seafarers. In a globalised sector, Europe needs to show the path for the future of the shipping industry” says French MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier, one of the speakers at the event.
In its vision for the future of European maritime transport, ETF offers concrete proposals to make tomorrow’s maritime sector fairer and a generator of wealth and jobs in shipping for EU resident seafarers. As the industry engages itself at the eve of the ESW to aim at a socially sustainable sector it might be time to dispel the myth of an alleged lack of attractiveness of the sector and to call on the EU to play a more active role in this regard.
To read the report issued after the Seafarers Matter conference, please click here.
To read the conference programme, please click here.
To read the biographies of the conference speakers, please click here.
To read the presentation of Prof. Capt. Syamantak Bhattacharya, please click here.
To view impressions of the Seafarers Matter conference, click on this photo album.