Union relief efforts forge ahead The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and its affiliated unions are taking action to help those affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
Despite the devastation and the breakdown of many local government services and agencies, trade unions in the Philippines are purchasing and moving essential supplies. The ITF and its affiliated unions are supporting this effort financially.
Incredibly valuable work is being done by two maritime unions. AMOSUP (the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines) is using its training ship the Kapitan Felix Oca to ferry United Nations supplies to the country. It has committed the vessel to this task for the indefinite future.
Meanwhile the Philippine Seafarers Union (PSU) is making desperate efforts to distribute food and drink in Cebu Province. It reportsthat local government functions have simply collapsed as a result of the destruction of the typhoon and it is one of the few functioning organisations in the area.
Staff are turning up for work even though their own family members have been killed. PSU members are in Cebu and Tacloban in Leyte. The island of Leyte cannot yet be reached otherthan by a few military transports. There is no phone communication.
The union is collecting emergency supplies which it expects to take to Leyte by ship on Friday. It presumes that its office in Tacloban has been destroyed and will use a sub-office in Ormoc as its base to distribute goods. The ITF has made an initial donation to cover three days of this work and other targeted donations will follow.
Alongside shipowners and welfare groups such as the Sailors Society and Mission to Seafarers, the ITF is also working with ISWAN (the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network) on practical measures to assist Filipino seafarers who are desperate to find out what has happened to their families.
More details of ISWAN’s valuable work – along with ways that it can be supported – can be found here: www.seafarerswelfare.org/news-and-media/latest-news/martime-industry-responds-to-typhoon-in-the-philippines.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin stated: “Our sympathy is with all the victims of this awful event, and our thoughts are with them and allthose in the country and around the world who are trying to help them.
“Unions have taken up the challenge of providing the emergency aid that is needed following this disaster. We in the wider ITF family are supporting them all the way. We commend their inspiring example, and that of all the organisations, agencies, individuals and governments who are working tirelessly to help those affected by this awful tragedy.”
He continued: “Outside the country itself, one of the affected groups is Filipino seafarers who, like many of their countrymen and countrywomen, work abroad. For all of them communication with home is vital.
“We call on all shipping companies to assist with this burning need, and to identify those who have been directly affected by this tragedy. We ask them to help those who have lost family members with the provision of emergency compassionate leave, a guarantee that their jobswill not be put at risk if they need to return to their families, and to provide help with repatriation.”
He continued: “Filipinos work worldwide, in many sectors, and we hope that in all of them they will receive the support and understanding they need, from employers, embassies and governments.” The ITF is meeting with its members, other bodies and shipowners’ organisations on further joint aid for those affected. The results of these initiatives will be announced as soon as they are finalised.