The ITF Seafarer Union Development Programme (ISUDP) began in 1999.

The Programme is designed to strengthen seafarer affiliates in labour supply countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and the Ukraine.

This strengthening can involve:
  • reforming union structures
  • helping unions to become democratic and independent
  • increasing the union’s ability to provide solidarity action
  • skills training in providing membership services, e.g. grievance-handling and CBA negotiation
  • training for union leaders and organisers
  • ensuring closer links between the union and its members
  • encouraging inter-union cooperation  
The ISUDP role has evolved to include coordinating projects to establish new unions representing seafarers. Such projects are underway in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste.

One such project in Turkey has already achieved its goal of financial and operational self-sufficiency for the new union.
  • The ISUDP priority countries are decided by the ITF Seafarers’ Section Committee. Countries are assessed against set criteria, considering factors such as:
  • size of the national fleet
  • number of national seafarers in each sector of the industry
  • number of seafarers unionised in the country
  • capacity of the union(s) to provide solidarity and trade union services
  • maritime and labour legal framework in the country
 ISUDP works with the ITF affiliates and other maritime unions to carry out its work and ensure that the projects achieve the best outcomes for seafarers.

In addition to the listed countries ISUDP has projects currently operating in Egypt and India and potential priority countries are always under review to ensure the Programme remains relevant.