The dynamic and interconnected nature of the maritime industry calls for an equally dynamic local body with the appropriate global mindset to effectively lead the development of the industry at the national level. The Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago (SATT) proves to be more than an able leader in this regard by providing a range of services aimed at delighting its membership. Today, the SATT contributes to the development of the local maritime industry and by extension national development through the provision of the following critical services to its membership.
These services include:
- Technical advice
- Events management - training, lectures and seminars
The range of services aims at developing and sustaining an industry representation at the highest level both locally and internationally and assisting the membership to operate at international industry standards.
As a good corporate citizen, the Association also strives to assist Government and other agencies to develop the maritime sector and sensitize the public on maritime and shipping issues.
Apart from having a critical local presence, the SATT is affiliated with a number of regional multilateral associations, namely: the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA), the Caribbean Latin American Action (CLAA), the Association of the Caribbean States (ACS) and the Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC). These affiliations assist the SATT in enhancing its services through the exchange of information and advocacy.
A Short History
The evolution of the SATT is evidence of the body’s dynamic and highly adaptive nature, an important attribute in the global maritime industry. The SATT was born in pre-World War II (WWII) Trinidad in the form of the Steamers Warehouse Association, a loose association of the large trading house, formed to address the issue of employment of port labour on behalf of its members.
With the creation of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and the formation of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU), the Steamers Warehouse Association had to properly constitute itself before entering into any collective bargaining with the new Union. Thus, emerged the SATT on April 29, 1938 as a registered Trade Union, to specifically negotiate with the SWWTU on behalf of their members.
The first members of the SATT included some well-known companies of the time such as: Archer Coal Depot Co. Inc.; Furness, Withy & Co. Ltd.; Thos. & Jas. Harrison Ltd.; Alston & Co. Ltd.; Gordon Grant & Co. Ltd.; Gomez & Miller Ltd.; Wm. H. Kennedy & Co. Ltd.; J.N Harriman & Co. Ltd.; Geo. F. Huggins & Co. Ltd.; Lee Lum & Co. Ltd.; K.N. S.M. and Royal Mail Lines Ltd.
The SATT functioned as labour employer during a time of development in T&T and geo-political tensions in the world. The first industrial agreement between the SWWTU and the SATT was signed in 1938; the year construction of the Port of Spain Deep Water Harbour (King’s Wharf) was completed. The SATT diligently continued its functions as labour employer during the upheavals of the World War II when Port of Spain was kept very busy as a marshalling point for the Allies. Seldom were there less than 20 vessels at anchor off Port of Spain.
After the War and as Trinidad gradually industrialized, SATT’s sphere of influence extended to include some of the new outports, which had developed in Trinidad to service the expanding oil industry.
The membership is increasing at a very satisfactory rate, thanks to the hard work of the Management Committee, and the Association’s General Manager and the Secretariat staff. Additionally, special Sub-committees made up of selected members undertake many projects. So long as all these teams function well, the Shipping Association of Trinidad and Tobago will continue to serve its members and the Nation efficiently for many years to come.
In 2001, the Association successfully completed the purchase and renovation of their new office headquarters at 15 Scott-Bush Street, Port of Spain. The Secretariat took up office in May 2001 and these premises provide a comfortable home as well as lucrative investment for the Association.
The Changing Role of the SATT
Following the independence of Trinidad and Tobago, the Government decided to nationalize the stevedoring operation of the Port, creating Port Contractors Ltd, which employed all labour on the port. This new body, majority owned by the Government, therefore, took over all labour employment function at the Port Authority, inevitably marginalizing the SATT.
However, all was not lost for the SATT. It was soon realized that an important role existed for the SATT in shipping mainly because of the wealth of experience and technical knowledge that its members brought to the industry. Thus, a new role for the SATT came to the fore; the Association functioned as a consultative body and a lobby on matters related to the waterfront.
New Role of the SATT
Today, the SATT effectively carries out its role generally as lobby, negotiator and advisor to its membership and the shipping fraternity at large towards the development of shipping expertise.
The objectives of the SATT include, among other things:
To promote, facilitate and protect the interests as Members of the Association.
To collect and circulate statistics and other information. Dispute resolution
To enable its Members to meet from time to time for mutual counsel.
To promote, support and oppose legislation deemed expedient in the interest of the Association.
To foster, promote and protect the trade interests of the Association. Coordination of work with other relevant organizations to the furtherance of its objectives.
Today, the SATT’s membership is representative of the interconnectedness of the shipping industry, not only are shipping agents and their principals; members of the Association (as it was in the past), membership has expanded to include ports, shipping industry consultants, surveyors, chandlers, NVOCCs, consolidators among other entities.
The SATT’s membership is categorized into three groups:
- Group A
Ship Agents, Ship Managers, Ship Brokers; Ship Owners and/or Ship Operators
- Group B
Port, Dock and Terminal Operators
- Group C
Service Companies and those individuals, firms, trade unions, corporations and associations who are engaged directly in the maritime or shipping industries in T&T and whose business does not qualify them for membership in either Group A or Group B in respect of such business e.g. maritime surveyors, chandlers, consolidators and NVOCCs.
The SATT is also represented on almost every shipping related committee or organization local, regional and international. The Association is a founding member of the Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA). It is also represented on the local Pilotage Authority and provides a Commissioner for the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT). The Association is also represented on the Customs Brokers Board, which is the governing body for Customs Brokers and Boarding Clerks.
The expanded membership of the Association and its representation on local and regional bodies allows for increased expertise and experience in achieving its objectives and a platform to air the concerns of the Association at the governmental and multilateral levels, respectively.
The structure of the SATT allows for the optimal provision of expertise and experience towards achieving its objectives. The SATT consists of the:
Executive Council – formulates policy and general guidelines for the Association. The President heads this body.
The Secretariat – implements policies and provides critical support for the day-to-day operations of the Association. The General Manager head these functions.
Special Sub-Committees – formed to undertake special projects. It comprises relevant members with expertise related to the terms of reference of the sub-committee and the nature of the project.
The SATT has evolved into a modern, customer-oriented organization. It readily dealt with challenges presented by its external environment by remoulding its operation and using its expertise towards achieving new objectives. The Association has evolved with time and under its able leadership will meet the demands of the shipping industry way into the future.