Your Saturday Listen: In human dignity we trust

This week, we look at the softer side of the ITF’s work: the Seafarers Trust, our charity dedicated to the welfare of seafarers, irrespective of nationality, race or creed.

Since its launch in 1981, the trust has provided some $200 million US to support seafarers around the world.

The Trust was established by the ITF as a body with charitable status under UK law.  Its funding comes from the investment income of the ITF’s welfare fund, which is used to provide trade-union services to seafarers. The trust is tasked with supporting projects that directly benefit individual seafarers’ spiritual, moral or physical welfare.

Those projects have evolved as needs change. Initially, in the words of former ITF general secretary David Cockroft, the Trust was seen as something of a “minibus or van fund” for groups seeking grants to provide transport for seafarers while in port. But it has evolved into a sophisticated and effective organisation that coordinates global work aimed at meeting the complex welfare needs of seafarers.

The latest example of modern times: the Trust has launched its first phone app. Shore Leave is a free, offline app that allows seafarers to store in their smartphones the contact details of all seafarers’ centres around the world. With a few clicks, seafarers can call the nearest mission for assistance or the SeafarerHelp line for more serious issues. Or they can use the app to find information about the Seafarers’ Trust and the International Committee on Seafarers’ Welfare, the organisation providing the database of seafarers’ centres.

We asked Kimberly Karlshoej, head of the trust, for her own take on the charity.

In her words: “We believe that all working men and women should have work that offers them security, freedom, dignity, equity and purpose. These deeply held beliefs, of the rights of workers and the human rights of all people, permeate the Trust and are the values that we base our work on.”

Vision: “Our vision is to be the leader in promoting and improving the wellbeing of maritime workers worldwide. We envisage a world where all maritime workers are healthy, happy and have decent work.”

Mission: “We financially support organizations that provide services to maritime workers; we invest in long-term programs that improve the health and well-being of seafarers and their families; and we act as a catalyst for positive normative change in the maritime community.”

Values:  “We are a family of trade unionists who are at the forefront of the struggle for transport workers’ rights, and therefore also human rights. Many trade unionists have lost their lives or risked their own freedom in their attempts to claim the basic human rights of freedom of association, to organize and engage in collective bargaining, and to freedom of speech.”

Here’s a shorter six-minute version of the video:

And here’s the full 30-minute version:


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