Union formed to improve lives of seafarers

─ formed to provide representation to Guyanese seafarers

─ to bridge the existing gap between them and their employers

─ to improve workers compensation, wages and other benefits

DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The livelihood of seafarers is expected to improve with the formation of new Guyana Seafarers and General Workers Union (GS&GWU).  The body was today officially introduced to stakeholders, the public and other mariners at the Umana Yana location.

General Secretary of the GS&GWU, Simone Fortune said the union was formed to provide representation to Guyanese seafarers and bridge the existing gap between them and their employers.

Fortune said with the growth of the maritime sector the union will be placing emphasis on a number of issues to enhance working conditions for fishermen and women. These include improving workers compensation, wages and other benefits, living accommodation onboard, meals, safety equipment, resting hours, among others.

“The development of the maritime sector is very important in our economy and emphasis should be placed on ensuring that our hardworking, risk-taking seafarers are protected,” Fortune said.

The General Secretary explained that since the registration of the union in March this year, over 400 members have been registered. She noted it has also successfully negotiated with the Fishermen Organisation in Berbice to become a registered organisation with the union and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).

Fortune is encouraging all stakeholders to become au fait with the laws and regulations guiding seafarers, in order to make informed decisions when dealing with those in the maritime sector.

President of the GS&GWU, Oswald Prince stressed the important role seafarers play in the country while noting that most of them go unnoticed. “From today, the GS&GWU will do its part in sensitising our seamen and the public of seafarer’s rights, so in the future, they can be will be properly represented.”

He encouraged seafarers to take advantage of the union through membership and to work with the union to further improve their livelihoods.

In December 2017, a group of concerned and qualified seamen, with a focus to provide representation for all seafarers local and abroad formed the GS&GWU. It was registered and launched in March 2018 in New Amsterdam, Berbice.

By: Crystal Stoll

Images: Keno George

Editor’s Note: A seafarer is a person whose trade or occupation is assisting in the handling, sailing, and navigating of a ship during a voyage, especially one below the rank of officer.