Today is the International Day of the Seafarer.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that this day is all about the men and women who sail the ships that move our goods.
It is not about the International Maritime Organization.
It is not about the International Transport Workers Federation.
And it is most certainly not about the industry that treats them so often with disregard. That sometimes underpays them or steals their wages, keeps them on board at work far past their contracted time, that sends pay allotments home to desperate families long after the money is due, that cuts back on food, on clean water or hot water, ignores their injuries, refuses to provide basic recreation on board or the basic wifi or computer connections that would allow them to stay in touch with the families they are away from for months on end.
No. The Day of the Seafarer is not about any of that.
It is about celebrating the work these men and women do for all of us, serving as the backbone of the global shipping industry.
They carry the weight of the world’s wealth-generation on their backs. They do it through rough seas, raging storms, inhuman heat and bitter cold.
They do it, by and large, with little complaint. And often with a smile on their faces.
In the weeks and months to come, you will hear stories about these seafarers, and details of their work lives and cases, from the three Canadian ITF inspectors who climb gangways every day to defend and advance their rights.
For today, all that needs to be said is a heartfelt “thank you.”
From all of us. Everywhere.
Gerard, Vince and Peter,
your Canadian inspectorate