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May 24, 2004

IMO U-turn outrages labor

IMO's Maritime Safety Committee has reportedly backed away IMO from the proposal, championed by the U.K., to make double hulls compulsory for bulk carrying cargo ships built after 2007.

The unexpected U-turn has drawn sharp criticism from the International Transport Workers' Federation.

David Cockroft, ITF General Secretary, commented: "This was a shock and a sad reminder that there are still people and nations prepared to put cost saving ahead of life saving."

He described the vote to abandon the decision as "a kick in the teeth for seafarers, and a betrayal of all those who have died on bulk carriers."

"A double hull," in Cockroft's view, "enhances bulker safety to the same level as a modern tanker. Yet they are being made compulsory for tankers and not bulkers. How do you explain that? Because an oil spill costs an owner more than a dead crew."

Despite having taken 10 years, used a formal safety assessment methodology and despite a decision of principle already having been taken, the U-turn on MSC 76 was made, asserts the ITF "on the basis of a single discussion on a disputed and fundamentally flawed report, prepared by Greece, which was not subject to the detailed scrutiny given to other such reports."

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