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Shipping sector faced with major challenges in the near future

The head of the ITF said that despite Greece's long maritime history, the country is facing a crisis due to the lack of seamen

The major challenges that the shipping sector is facing and will face in the near future dominated the agenda of the head of the largest workers’ federation in the world.

His aim is to strengthen the efforts of seamen and the Panhellenic Maritime Federation in a spirit of cooperation with the maritime community, in order to achieve the goal of both training seamen in issues related to the green transition of the shipping sector, as well as attracting young people to the Greek navy.
In this context, Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), stated to “Naftemporiki”:

“We are here because the Panhellenic Seamen’s Federation (PNO) is one of the oldest federations under the power of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the largest seamen’s federation.”
Referring to the major challenges of the shipping sector, he noted: “We see the need to work together, based on the right regulations, respecting shipowners when it comes to protecting the seamen of the future.”
The current debate about green shipping has triggered concerns and for this reason “we are collaborating with the UN, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and our social partners, the International Chamber of Shipping. This venture is described as a fair transition and we estimate that out of the current labor market of 1.9 million seamen, up to 800,000 will need to be retrained or upskilled.”

According to Cotton, “the process of retraining seamen is a difficult issue, as it is not clear at this stage what the alternative fuels will be for the operation of ships in the world fleet.”
He also stressed that “this week we have brought together unions from Italy, Cyprus, Croatia to work together to ensure that we have a strong partnership in enforcing ITF policies in the shipping sector in the Mediterranean region.”


The head of the ITF said that despite Greece’s long maritime history, the country is facing a crisis due to the lack of seamen. “We are very concerned that many young people do not find the maritime profession attractive and therefore Greece’s long and rich tradition as a maritime nation will come under pressure, which is why PNO has already prepared initiatives to attract young people to the maritime profession.”

“We want to work with PNO to make sure we are making the shipping sector as attractive as possible and also accessible, whether it is the ocean liners or passenger ferries,” Cotton explained.

“We therefore believe it is extremely important to find ways to increase the attractiveness of the industry to young people and we will welcome and at the same time support talks with the shipping industry and the government about how we can create a new generation of Greeks who will become tomorrow’s Greek seamen.”