The new clauses state that the company will not discriminate against seafarers living with HIV, will not require its seafarers to undergo HIV testing and will allow the union to carry out HIV prevention education programmes.
The NUSS, which has been involved in a programme of HIV awareness among its members as well as in the country’s maritime academy (see photograph), is also finalising a further agreement with the same company and pursuing similar deals with other shipping companies.
Palitha Atukorale, president of the NUSS, commented that: “The agreement is really important to us with HIV on the increase in Sri Lanka and seafarers particularly vulnerable to the disease.”
ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith praised the agreement and hoped the initiative would encourage ITF maritime affiliates to negotiate similar deals. She said that the ITF is committed to help its affiliates fight the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/AIDS, and to protect the rights and dignity of all workers affected by the virus.