U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, Assistant Secretary Trottenberg and Acting Administrator of MARAD Lessley met with leaders from the U.S. Coast Guard, shipping industry and labor on October 20 to discuss concrete measures to protect the safety of Merchant Seamen and Midshipmen, ensure an inclusive environment in the Seaman’s workforce, and create a cultural shift to support the future of the U.S. Merchant Navy. The meeting was held in conjunction with the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) and USTRANSCOM conference.
Earlier today, the secretary addressed a plenary session of the NDTA conference saying:
“I want to address something as important as our physical infrastructure: it’s our people. Our current challenges and opportunities are not just about ships, trucks and trains – they are about engineers, drivers and sailors. We need to make sure that we support good working conditions, competitive compensation and excellent training and career development for people at all levels and in all parts of our transport systems.
“It’s also one more reason why gender equity is important. We cannot remain the world’s leading power if we only tap into the intelligence, experience and courage of half of our people. And we cannot expect other countries to heed our calls for human rights if we do not lead by example here … today I want to clarify a particular point that requires our attention. immediate attention.
“For too long, sexual assault in the shipping industry has been an open secret, affecting the industry as a whole, and the US Merchant Navy in particular. So I want to go directly to the reports we’ve seen recently on sexual assault affecting the US Merchant Navy. It is essential, but not sufficient, for a business, agency or government to declare that there is no tolerance for harassment and assault. It is essential, but not sufficient, to say that the allegations are taken seriously or to point out the training and reporting systems that are in place. This commitment must be accompanied by concrete and deliberate actions. This means removing all the barriers that prevent survivors from reporting these incidents. It means holding the culprits to account. And most important of all, it means preventing the assault and harassment from happening in the first place. It’s not just a question of politics, it’s a question of culture.
“I’m raising the issue with this audience because I know a lot of the leadership that can help drive this culture change is right here at this convocation.
“All of us – government, military and the private sector – have an obligation to work together to usher in this change. If we are to maintain the world’s largest transportation system, the men and women of the U.S. Merchant Navy – and the shipping industry at large – must be safe and respected, from their first day in an academy or in any training or apprenticeship program. and throughout their careers, afloat and ashore.
“We rely more than ever on our sailors and the people of our transportation and logistics industries. Which means we have to support these Americans – as workers and as people. It is a moral imperative, a national security imperative and an economic imperative. Especially at a time when it is so deeply important to our future that we are effectively recruiting and supporting the people who represent the next generation of the Merchant Navy and the rest of our transportation leadership.
“The ability to move goods, people and equipment across the country is fundamentally important to our economy. The right investments, in our infrastructure and in our people, will lay the foundations for a generation of renewed economic prosperity, so that every user, every party, every one of our transport systems (commercial, military and civilian) can travel Quickly and safely.
“I look forward to working with all of you to unlock the full potential of these historic investments and create a transportation system that supports our economy and national security for generations to come. ”
In the small meeting that followed, participants underscored their commitment to creating a safe environment, including working to end sexual violence and harassment. Participants agreed that this safety perspective should apply from the time cadets enter the academy until the time they retire.
Participants agreed that zero tolerance declarations are a starting point, but that more work needs to be done to bring this commitment to life, change the culture and make it safer for cadets and women across the country. industry.
The group discussed potential solutions, including making it easier for cadets to report sexual assault in a secure and confidential manner; compulsory check-ins for students early and often; and ways to improve background checks for personnel on board ships. The group agreed to continue these conversations and work together in the future to address these pressing challenges.
Find out more at the Ministère des Transports