Colombian union supports maritime workers at the epicentre of Covid-19 pandemic

Wednesday 1 July 2020

As the Colombian Government announces national quarantine will extend until 16 July, a nationwide transport and logistics union, continues to provide food and bio safety equipment to some 510 fishers and seafarers.

Job retention, social dialogue with 52 companies and a sharp focus on the areas hardest hit by Covid-19 have been the focus of the national union – Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de Rama (SNTT) – since March when quarantine was first announced in Colombia.

Valle del Cauca, on the Western side of the country on the pacific coast, is one of the most affected departments out of the 35 that make up Colombia and is where more than 510 seafarers and fishers, SNTT members, live and work. The union has been delivering food baskets and personal protective equipment to these maritime workers, in addition to basic biosafety (spill) kits and protective suits for when quarantine is suspended.

“Quarantine has brought production and many companies to a standstill, this has significantly affected the jobs and income of all workers, including our members and our union has a long tradition of defending and supporting the most vulnerable. Our inspiration is Gioconda Belli’s phrase ‘Solidarity is the tenderness between peoples’.” said SNTT President, Esteban Barbosa.

He continued “This is why since April, using union funds, we have kept some 510 fishers and seafarers families safe and fed in Valle del Cauca. We are grateful for the Trust fund, it allows us to continue with this vital work whilst preparing for lockdown to be lifted.”

The Head of ITF Seafarers’ Trust, Katie Higginbottom stated: “It is right that the Trust’s Emergency Covid fund is going where it is needed right now, to the epicentre of the pandemic and to the most vulnerable sector where seafarers and their families are impacted the most. The SNTT has supported its members for several months and we’re proud to provide a helping hand.”

Read more here about the ITF Seafarers’ Trust Covid-19 Welfare fund

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