How the NUSS was born and what is its role?
In 2006, Mahendra Sharma and Mark Davis, the Asia/Pacific Regional Secretary and Programme Coordinator of Seafarer Union Development Programme respectively of ITF, approached Palitha Atukorale who is a national trade union leader, and broached the subject of forming an independent trade union for Sri Lanka seafarers and being an effective voice for them. Realizing the importance of that idea, Palitha Atukorale proceeded to have several rounds of discussions with Ranjan Perera and a few other seafarers personally known to him, with a view to translating it into reality. Positively responding and warming to the proposition, they all swung into diligent action. Consequently, an independent seafarer trade union saw the light of day in 2007 and it was named “National Union of Seafarers Sri Lanka (NUSS)”. Today, the NUSS is an affiliated member of the ITF family.
The Sri Lankan seafarers have since come to warmly embrace the NUSS and now it is indeed an influential stakeholder entity with very high visibility in the country’s maritime industry. And what began as a seafarer trade union has now grown up to be a more inclusive maritime sector union with having under its wings dockers and fisher workers as well – they are organized in its dockers and fisher workers sections. While the present president of the NUSS is Palitha Atukorale, its secretary is Ranjan Perera who also happens to be the ITF Inspector.