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SMOU highlights Covid welfare work during 70th anniversary

21 July 2021

Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU), a Nautilus Federation affiliate which now has more than 30,000 members, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The designated theme for SMOU's anniversary is 'Because of You', an especially significant theme during the Covid-19 pandemic and a chance for the union to highlight its work on behalf of members during the crisis.

In 2020, SMOU joined the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) and Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) to respond to the crew change crisis. They formed the Singapore Crew Change Work Group (SGCCWG) to set up infrastructure and formulate a guidebook that detailed steps to implement safe crew change in Singapore and to repatriate seafarers.

The Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund was also set-up, with the support of like-minded international organisations like International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), and International Chamber of Shipping (ICS).

By December 2020, more international organisations – Global Maritime Forum Maritime Industry Crew Change Taskforce, INTERTANKO, Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, and World Shipping Council, as well as seven port authorities from Abu Dhabi, Antwerp, Barcelona, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Sines, and Vancouver – joined in support. Through this initiative, SMOU was able to reach out to the region to further bolster crew change efforts by channelling resources upstream to seafarer supplying nations.

SMOU also worked with authorities to arrange for seafarers to receive vaccines and protect themselves and their families, and to set up the Seafarers Relief Package to help those unable to find jobs onboard ships due to the increasing difficulty of crew change, and was even able to help others find work onboard and on shore to tide them over.

In its anniversary year, SMOU has pledged to continue in the fight against the effects of the pandemic – for example, by setting aside $200,000 of welfare funding to acknowledge and thank seafarers for their work, and by participating in many other initiatives on welfare and mental health for seafarers.