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Brian Laughton

The ITF is this week mourning the passing of former official Brian Laughton.

Brian joined the ITF as a clerk in 1959. From visiting his first ships in the 1960s, he was appalled at the conditions endured by workers onboard ships operating as part of the Flag of Convenience system.

In 1971 Brian was appointed Administrative Secretary of the ITF’s Special Seafarers’ Section (later Department) and throughout the next twenty years he was a major part of turning the Flags of Convenience campaign into an operational force to improve the lives of the world’s seafarers. He would later contribute to preserving the history of this important campaign through archiving and oral interviews. These are now stored at Warwick University.

On a daily basis, Brian fought to see hundreds of millions of dollars returned to seafarers in unpaid wages and as compensation for death or injury of seafarers on the job. He was able to drive this work due to his remarkable leadership and compassion.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said Brian was an internationalist and humanist.

“Irrespective of whether you were American, African, Arab, Asian or European – from a union or without representation – Brian would do everything in his power to improve your life or protect you,” said Cotton.

“He recharged the first set of inspectors to go out and work with and for seafarers. That legacy is still going strong today.”

“The ITF extends our heartfelt sympathies to Brian's wife Kathleen and sons Nicholas and Richard at this sad time,” he said.

Nautilus General Secretary Mark Dickinson also offered his sympathies, as a former Secretary of the ITF Special Seafarers Department himself. 

“When I joined the ITF in 1987 Brian was Secretary of the Special Seafarers' Department, a job I was some years later to take on following the retirement due to ill health of Brian’s successor Bruno De Bonis. Brian was a genuinely lovely guy. The patience of a saint and never a cross word for anyone even when sorely tested.” 

“An absolute mine of information about the ITF and the flag of convenience campaign and always generous with his time to share that knowledge. A legend in maritime legal circles due to the many court cases the ITF fought as the shipowners didn’t take too kindly to the campaign to highlight the industry’s malpractices. Of course that continues today, and Brian’s legacy is the solidarity that continues to drive the campaign for justice for the world’s 1.6 million seafarers,” said Dickinson.

Brian Laughton pictured (second from left) at ITF FPC meeting.