A trail-blazing agreement to provide mutual support for seafarers in trouble around the world is being launched today by 13 maritime unions belonging to the Nautilus Federation.
The Joint Assistance and Support Network (JASON) has been developed with the aim of combatting the criminalisation of the maritime profession and to ensure that members’ rights to fair treatment after accidents are upheld.
The scheme unites unions in countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
It will ensure that reciprocal advice and support can be provided to union members if they are involved in an incident within a port, territory, territorial waters or onboard a vessel flagged in one of the countries covered by the agreement.
‘We are delighted to launch the JASON scheme,’ said Nautilus director of legal services Charles Boyle. ‘Criminalisation of seafarers has been a major concern for all the member unions in the Federation and we have worked hard to prevent seafarers from being treated as scapegoats after accidents.
‘As a result of such work, the IMO/ILO guidelines on the fair treatment of seafarers following maritime incidents were developed and adopted in 2006,’ Mr Boyle pointed out. ‘However, the adoption of the guidelines in themselves was insufficient to ensure that seafarers are not victimised. All the Federation members report some degree of criminalisation of members — most frequently involving pollution cases, as well as collisions — and we saw the need to develop further procedures to establish an international support and assistance network for the benefit of our respective members.’
The JASON scheme will provide concise and practical checklists for members to use if they are involved in an incident to raise awareness of their rights under the fair treatment guidelines. Additional helpline support will be delivered in conjunction with the Nautilus 24/7 service.
As part of the JASON agreement, Federation unions will provide assistance such as advice on choosing a local expert lawyer, guidance on local investigation and legal procedures, visiting a member or arranging visits and translation services, and ensuring consular access to any members of other Federation unions who have been detained following incidents in their waters or on their ships.
‘The JASON scheme has been designed to address some of the biggest concerns faced by members at sea,’ Mr Boyle said. ‘It should ensure that they receive speedy and specialist support if they are involved in an incident in many parts of the world. We hope that this will not only provide practical assistance, but that it will also make sure that the principles of the fair treatment guidelines are upheld and that seafarers are not unjustly singled out for punishment following accidents.’