Creating a port welfare committee | First steps

Creating a port welfare committee – first steps

Beginning a port welfare committee involves bringing people together. You will need to contact all of the people who work to improve the welfare of seafarers (stakeholders) and encourage people to get involved. By helping people to understand the need for a PWC, and the benefits they offer, you should be able to get people interested.

Make a list of stakeholders

You may already know many of the people and organisations that will get involved in the PWC, but there may be stakeholders that you don’t know. Write a complete list of all the potential stakeholders for your PWC. Plan to speak with all of the people on your list. You may need to ask your contacts to connect you to new organisations or introduce you to new people.

Contact stakeholders

Start by contacting the people you know. You probably know people who are already interested in creating a PWC so speak to them first and gradually build support.

“Try to get the people working at the port authority or at the shipping agents to see that the problems of seafarers are also their problems. Without seafarers, there would be no port..”  Ricardo Rodríguez-Martos, Apostolada del Mar, Barcelona, Spain

Look for opportunities to cooperate with other organisations. By offering ideas that will help both the PWC and your partners, you are more likely to win their cooperation. Continue discussing seafarer’s welfare with other stakeholders, and continue to explain how a PWC will benefit them and seafarers.

When you are meeting with or speaking to potential members, remember that for a PWC to be effective, members should:

  • Join the PWC as representatives of organisations, not as individuals
  • Be willing to allow their organisation’s identity to be brought together with others
  • Have strong leadership with the authority to mobilise others
  • Have the support of their organisation’s management

Arrange your first committee meeting

“Gather together all the people with an interest. Explain the benefits.”

David Parsons, Merchant Navy Welfare Board, UK

Once you have identified and contacted all of the people and organisations that will be involved in your PWC, choose a time, date and venue for your first meeting.

At the meeting, explain:

  • The objectives of port welfare committees
  • The meaning of seafarer welfare
  • The role of existing welfare organisations (if any exist)

You will also need to:

  • Discuss funding for your port welfare committee
  • Appoint the Chairman, Secretary and other committee roles
  • Decide the date and venue for the next meeting.

It is often beneficial for a meeting to start or finish with refreshments. This allows members to socialise and get to know each other so that friendships and stronger working relationships develop.

Bringing together organisations with different agendas

Many PWCs experience disagreements or tensions between members. This is natural and not very surprising, given the different purposes and motivations of members.

For example:

  • Ship owners and government may think unions are disruptive
  • Ship owners and unions/missions may think government agencies are bureaucratic
  • Government and unions/missions may think ship owners are interested in profits, not welfare

They best way to overcome differences of opinion is to draw discussions back to the central purpose of a PWC: seafarer’s welfare. Few people will argue that seafarer’s welfare is unimportant or not worthy of attention.  Most agencies are eager to improve seafarer’s welfare, and this is why the PWC exists.

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