ITF logoITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) -affiliated trade unions meeting in Mombasa, Kenya today launched a new taskforce dedicated to protecting the rights of African workers in the offshore sector – and to fighting for more jobs for African nationals in the indigenous hydrocarbon industry. As part of its aims, the new ITF African Regional Offshore Oil and Gas Task Force Group (AROTFG) will campaign to secure national cabotage and continental shelf jurisdiction in the offshore oil and gas sector. It will also be checking for any abuses by companies of African workers’ rights, particularly where they contravene the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), the seafarers’ bill of rights. The MLC came into force on 20 August, and is the ‘fourth pillar’ of global maritime regulation, alongside existing international conventions onsafety at sea, marine pollution, and seafarer training and certification. It aims to promote decent living and working conditions in the shipping industry, and to prevent exploitation and unfair competition. It also upholds the principles of freedom of association and the rights to fair terms of employment.

Speaking from the meeting, Joe Katende, ITF Africa regional secretary, said: “This is a historic event. The AROTFG, backed by the ITF and its global Offshore Task Force Group (OFTG), will send a signal to governments and the hydrocarbon industry that African workers are sick and tired of hearing excuses from the industry. It is time the industry backed African workers in developing their skills and finding job opportunities on their own continental shelf.”

ITF Offshore Task Force Group chair Norrie McVicar applauded the developments in Africa and called upon the Nigerian Government to show leadership in the region by being the first to review its own cabotage regulations, particularly where it is known there is a clear abuse of the ‘waivers system’ that is undermining job and training opportunities for Nigerian seafarers. He also thanked the Kenya Maritime Authority in Mombasa for its support for the meeting and its involvement in the opening ceremony.