|As a 71-year-old organization, the Shipping Association of Jamaica, (SAJ) has charted the developments in the Maritime Sector in Jamaica since the late 1930s, and has been an active participant in ensuring that Jamaica's Shipping Industry remains competitive and viable for the long haul.
With registered offices close to the Port of Kingston, the Association has recorded steady growth in its membership (which now number 78), spanning shipping agents, terminal operators, stevedoring companies, hauliers, NVOCCs, ship owners and operators, and providers of business support services to the Port Community.
How the SAJ Operates
Registered as a Trade Union, one of the primary functions of the Association is the manangement of certain categories of labour on the Port. In addition, the Association acts on behalf of its members in initiatives to advance industrial relations, training, security, information technology, and to establish uniform standards and rates of remuneration for port labour within the Maritime Sector. The SAJ, like other Trade Associations, has a strong advocacy and lobbying remit, and liaises with Government agencies and bodies, as well as other private sector organizations to ensure the continued development of the Shipping Industry in the island.
Maintaining a cadre of approximately 340 skilled workers, the SAJ manages a labour Recruiting Centre, from which stevedores are assigned daily duties. In 1998, the Association on behalf of the industry, signed a historic labour agreement with the three unions in the bargaining unit which abolished many of the restrictive practices which had built up over the years. This agreement has allowed for many strategic changes on the waterfront, and has heightened the competitiveness of the Port. Indeed, greater emphasis is being placed on productivity strategies, in order to maximize efficiencies and lower costs.
The Association has a 10-member Board, known as the Managing Committee, but the on going work of the organization is undertaken by a highly efficient and professional Secretariat. The SAJ has a strong committee structure, which supports the work of the Managing Committee. These sub-Committees operate on a voluntary basis and seek to protect and support the conduct of members' business according to fair and honest principles.
Apart from its lobbying functions, the Secretariat provides:-
· Specialized training opportunities for its members,
· General information on developments in the industry both locally
· and abroad
· Specialized information packages
· Project support to membership groups
· Community outreach programmes on behalf of the membership
Long before it became fashionable to have a strong IT policy, the Shipping Association had formed a wholly owned subsidiary - Port Computer Services Limited. This company provides much of the IT backbone and support to the Port infrastructure on and around the Port of Kingston. With an AS400 platform, the operations are versatile and range from processing, systems support to software development. The company also has strong strategic alliances with solid overseas service providers.
Even before the events of 9/11, the SAJ has kept a watchful eye on security. Having operated a security company in the 1980s, the Association moved to support the security infrastructure of the Port in the 90s by establishing a K9 Division. This division provides highly professional services to the Port Community as well as to exporters and freight forwarders. It is licensed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and is the only legally sanctioned private sector operated K9 service in the island.
A founding member of the Caribbean Shipping Association whose Secretariat is housed at the SAJ's Head Office, the Shipping Association of Jamaica recognizes the importance of networking, and regional integration, and has therefore been a major contributor to the development of the CSA over the years.
The Shipping Association of Jamaica continues to grow from strength to strength, and views its mission as developing a socially aware, technically competent, quality driven, professional and nationally aware organization, which is determined to provide value-added service to its membership and the wider Port Community.