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Panama Maritime Authority and ITF strengthen collaboration for seafarers' rights

news 17 Jan 2024

The Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) are pleased to announce the formalisation of a Bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing cooperation to safeguard the rights, safety, and security of seafarers engaged on Panama registered vessels.

The Panama ship registry currently stands as the world's largest, with more than 8,500 vessels making up the fleet with more than 300,000 active seafarers.

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, stated: "This MoU signifies a significant step forward to better ensure that the rights of seafarers working on board Panama registered vessels are advanced and protected. By formalising our collaboration, we aim to address challenges collectively and proactively."

Rafael Cigarruista, Director General of Merchant Marine, emphasised: "The Panama Ship Registry is committed to upholding the highest standards in the maritime industry. This partnership with ITF reinforces our dedication to seafarers' rights, safety, and security."

Key objective of the MoU which are framed within the legal context of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) include:

  • Sharing best practice
  • Consulting on relevant International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) matters arising
  • Supporting IMO and ILO submissions when appropriate
  • Providing support and sharing information on issues concerning seafarers, including:
    • Repatriation
    • Unpaid wages
    • Abandonment
    • Introduction of new technology including alternative fuels and digitalisation
  • Resolving seafarers’ grievances in a transparent and expedited manner
  • Working together to increase the number of Panama registered vessels covered by an ITF approved agreements.

The parties have committed to regular evaluations of the MoU's objectives, ensuring its relevance and adaptability to the evolving nature of the maritime industry, especially in light of the path toward decarbonization. The MoU, effective upon signature, will have a duration of three years.