20 September 2013 – The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) today pledged to continue the struggle for container weight safety after what it described as a missed opportunity to reduce the risk of harm to transport workers and members of the public.
The organisation was speaking out following a decision by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) sub–committee on dangerous goods, solid cargoes and containers to accept an alternative mode of verification to the mandatory weighing of packed shipping containers.
The proposed amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) by the ITF received its final consideration by the sub-committee this week. Instead, the sub-committee opted for a compromise position, which allows governments to either choose the gold standard of mandatory weighing or the lesser measure of certifying containers based on an unformulated process of verifying the weight by adding together the different constituent parts of a container load at unspecified times and places along the transport route.
ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin explained the flaws in the compromise: “This was the ideal opportunity to finally bring in a system which would lessen the risk that unweighed and misdeclared containers pose to dockers, seafarers, truck drivers, the general public and the environment. Instead we have a compromise that in some countries will put in place a process that is likely to be bedevilled by the obvious questions: who will certify, when, and how?”
He went on: “We will not step back from the task of getting decent universal weighing accepted as the norm. And we will seek transparency and clarity from the governments that fail to take up the safer method on how they plan to make certification work. The ITF and its affiliates feel passionately about this issue, as do the national governments and industry bodies that supported the amendment. We’re not prepared to walk away from this so we are redoubling our campaigning efforts and planning further lobbying, awareness raising and affiliate action in locations worldwide.”
He concluded “It must be made a legal requirement that containers are weighed and weighed accurately, and there must be repercussions for those who misdeclare. That’s what we’re campaiging for because anything less just isn’t good enough.”