Maritime charity Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) is urging all shipping lines operating in the Port of Liverpool and Manchester Ship Canal to contribute towards a new levy which will help fund welfare support for all their crew members.
LSC CEO John Wilson said Peel Ports agreed and gave permission to allow the voluntary levy to be applied to shipping lines coming into the Mersey Ports from October 2017, in line with the recommendations of the Maritime Labour Convention, MLC 2006. The amount shipping lines pay is calculated by gross tonnage. However, Mr Wilson expressed ‘disappointment’ that a number of shipping lines had indicated their unwillingness to LSC, declining to pay the levy.
Mr Wilson said the levy – which is collected on behalf of LSC through shipping agents – will help fund the operations of Liverpool Seafarers Centre which provides support to 50,000 seafarers passing through Liverpool each year. Similar seafarers’ centres operating in ports around the world have negotiated successful Port Levies. LSC runs two centres on Merseyside, its headquarters at Colonsay House in Crosby and its new Eastham Hub on the Manchester Ship Canal which opened in 2017. Mr Wilson said the centres provide ‘a lifeline’ to seafarers, offering a safe and secure place to rest and also receive practical and emotional support.
However, while Mr Wilson praised the generosity of shipping lines who have agreed to fund the levy including ACL, Seatruck, Stena, P&O, he is urging those who do not contribute to ‘rethink their position’.
“It is very disappointing that some shipping lines are failing to provide a small contribution to help fund the vital work our centres do – to support their crew members,” he said. “Yes, the levy is voluntary but the work we undertake is frequently doing the shipping lines a big favour especially when we are supporting a seafarer dealing with a major life event. For example, we often step in to help if there is a family bereavement, trauma, marriage, divorce or birth of a child. We can act as a go-between and can talk to the ship management company if there are problems to ensure the seafarer is being properly cared for. Seafaring can be a lonely and isolating job and crew frequently do not have people to talk to. We provide that helping hand and ensure that the Port of Liverpool and the maritime industry on Merseyside maintains its reputation as a friendly caring port. It is not much to ask for the shipping lines to find a small contribution to help care for their crews.”
Mr Wilson said with 95 per cent of British imports and exports transported by sea, the UK is dependent on seafaring and in particular seafarers.
“As a nation we rely on the silent invisible army of brave men and women who crew ships to support our economy and way of life,” he said. “Merseyside people understand this and generously help to fund us. We think all shipping lines should follow suit, they know better than anyone the challenges of a life at sea.”
Mr Wilson said the charity, whose roots date back to the 19th century, is a partnership between the Catholic Apostleship of the Sea (Liverpool) and the Anglican Mersey Mission to Seafarers. He said its primary aim is to help with the emotional strain of being away from home and loved ones for long periods of time at sea. LSC centres are equipped with a lounge, internet and gaming facilities, transport and areas to worship.”
Mr Wilson said the charity relies on donations and is always on the lookout for volunteers to help at the centres making cups of tea, providing a friendly ear and driving the mini bus.
Corporate supporters of LSC include: Essar’s Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, Peel Ports, the Merchant Navy Welfare Board, the Mersey River Pilots, Mersey Maritime, the Voluntary Aid Club and The Phoebe Wortley Charitable Trust.