What is the value of Welfare Boards?

The maritime sector is a disparate, global industry in which seafarers’ welfare and wellbeing is assuming an ever increasing importance. No matter what technological advances are made the maritime industry depends on the seafarer for the safe passage of ships and their cargoes.

Welfare Boards or Port Welfare Committees encourage the maritime community to work in partnership with one another and ensure seafarers welfare is properly supported.  Viewed as the “gold standard” in partnership working, the value of Welfare Boards as effective welfare forums has long been acknowledged by the international maritime community, in particular the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation (ILO). The latter promotes their development alongside port welfare facilities and services within MLC, 2006 Regulation 4.4.  Welfare Boards provide the forum to benefit States, Ship Owners (through their representatives), Port Owners and Authorities, Unions, Voluntary Organisations and, most importantly, support the services to the seafarers themselves.

In 2010, Professor Erol Kahveci of The Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University, published a report entitled ‘Port-based welfare workers for seafarers’(ISBN: 978-1-906182-06-9). The report, funded by the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, referred to Welfare Boards,, in particular PWCs, as follows:

The existence of PWCs in ports provides or generates some extra funds to maintain and develop existing services and facilities. The PWCs resulted in better coordination of services and through PWCs port welfare workers get to know other key players in their ports. Some talked about the benefits of sharing information and best practices. It is recommended that all the agencies in the seafarers’ welfare sector should recognise the importance of the PWCs for seafarers’ welfare.

Extra efforts need to be made for the establishment of PWCs in ports where the system does not exist.”

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