4 December 2012
The International Committee on Seafarers Welfare (ICSW) and the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN) formally agreed to merge last week. The members of the ICSW met in London on 27 November and voted for the merger and for a change of name for the new merged organisation. The new organisation will be called the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) and will be formally launched in early 2013.
ISWAN will harness the strength of both organisations to provide a stronger, more unified and cohesive voice to speak up on the international stage when seafarers' welfare is debated. ICSW brings the benefits of its membership structure involving employers, unions, and welfare providers while ISAN brings its experience of day to day problems faced by seafarers.
The new organisation will incorporate the 24 hour helpline for seafarers, Seafarerhelp, plus the projects from the ICSW including the The International Seafarers Welfare Awards, promotion of the MLC, health information for seafarers, and training for ship welfare visitors. The new body will be a membership organisation.
Roger Harris, Executive Director of the ICSW, said 'The new merged organisation will be able to be more effective and efficient and will have more of an impact on seafarers' welfare worldwide. We will be seeking new members particularly from shipping companies and ports. Only by partnership working with ship owners, ports, unions, welfare organisations, and governments will we be able to make a difference.'
David Dearsley, Acting Chief Executive Officer of ISAN said 'We are particularly pleased that the merger has been agreed at this time when we see the launch of an exciting new service that will enable seafarers using Smart Telecommunications sat phones to make free calls while at sea to the 24 hour Seafarerhelp phone line.'
The new organisation will advocate for the development of seafarer welfare boards nationally and at port level as well as pressing for more funding for welfare facilities and services in ports. ISWAN will also be looking at greater access by seafarers to internet while at sea and in port, using port levies for seafarers welfare, health promotion for seafarers, and other initiatives that will benefit seafarers.
The new organisation is supported by the International Shipping Federation, the International Transport Workers' Federation, and the International Christian Maritime Association.