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SMOU Pledges $3.5m to Help Members, Seafarers and the Elderly in the Community

The union announced the assistance at its 70th-anniversary gala dinner.
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By Shukry Rashid 25 Oct 2022
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Photo by Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union

The Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) has pledged some $3.5 million in funds and initiatives to support members, seafarers, and the elderly in the community.

The amount pledged will go to the SMOU Care Fund, the Mission to Seafarers Singapore (MSS), NTUC Health, and the Gift for You 2023 initiative.

The union announced the pledge at its 70th-anniversary gala dinner on 22 October 2022. Singapore President Halimah Yacob was guest-of-honour, and NTUC Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng was a special guest at the event.

SMOU General Secretary Mary Liew said seafarers were a hard-hit group during the pandemic in the past two years.

Ms Liew added that seafarers’ hard work has transported vital goods and essential items during the pandemic and kept the supply chain moving. But they faced many challenges.

“They faced the complexity of crew change processes across national policies, extended contracts on ships – with many working at sea away from their loved ones for 11 months and beyond, limited access to vaccinations, and the list goes on,” she said.

Assistance for Intermediate and Long-Term Care Services

SMOU also launched an intermediate and long-term care (ILTC) service, offering assistance to members with financial difficulty.

The assistance will help defray costs for ILTC services from approved providers in Singapore for members and their families of up to $3,000 per lifetime.

The service comes amidst the union’s ageing demographics, which will increase requirements and costs for ILTC services.

Seafarers’ Mental Health

Additionally, the union launched the WeCare programme under the Seafarers’ Medical Scheme to make two mental well-being-related courses available to more than 32,000 SMOU seafaring members. The union will partner with the MSS for the programme.

The programme will be hosted by SMOU’s training arm Wavelink Maritime Institute through its virtual learning platform.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted seafarers’ vital need for mental health support. This programme will be available to over 32,000 SMOU seafaring members residing in Singapore and worldwide.

Ms Liew said: “The reality of mental health became more exposed and visible amongst our seafarers, where many had to fight the battle of the mind.

“They had to grapple with mental challenges as a repercussion of the volatile situation, with some leading to anxiety, depression and even the state of being suicidal.”

Gift for You 2023

SMOU will also offer its members a one-time payout of $70 through the Gift for You 2023 initiative, symbolic of the union’s 70th anniversary.

The initiative will cost the union $210,000 and is estimated to help some 3,000 local members.