Tue | Sep 29, 2020

Shipping Association of Jamaica is 80!

Published:Tuesday | January 29, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Shipping, maritime and transport Industry officials joined the members, staff and well-wishers of the Shipping Association of Jamaica at the St Peter’s Anglican Church in Port Royal on Sunday, January 27, to celebrate 80 years of existence.

The proceedings were led by rector Reverend Barrington Jones, whose sermon expressed appreciation for the excellent work of the shipping association and lauded their many years of success.

President of the Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ), Charles Johnston, and immediate past president of the SAJ, Denise Lyn Fatt, both presented readings chosen according to the third Sunday after the Epiphany, around which the service was planned.

Though it was born out of the industrial unrest of the late 1930s, the SAJ has developed as a body that has brought and kept stability to labour relations in the port of Kingston. It continues to live up to the vision of its founders and has also emerged as a beacon of excellence for several industry and national associations, which have followed its development. The SAJ’s purpose, as crafted back in 1939, was to establish uniformity in the rates of remuneration of labour for port work; to ensure the payment of fair and reasonable rates; and to improve the conditions of employment during a period when the port of Kingston was plagued by demonstrations and disruption of business, as workers bemoaned low wages and what they deemed as unfair working conditions.


Eighty years after its registration on January 27, 1939, the SAJ is well known as a key force driving the success story of the modernised port of Kingston. The SAJ is pivotal to the continued advancement of the dependability and precision of cargo-handling operations at the ports.

The advancement has vastly improved the ports’ competitive edge and lowered and stabilised costs. Since it began operations, the SAJ has been providing a steady and reliable workforce for break-bulk and containerised cargo shipping at the Kingston Container Terminal and Kingston Wharves Limited. Leading the way in the region, the SAJ administers a cutting-edge workforce management system which facilitates flexible and real-time placement of highly skilled workers for the port, whose trans-shipment activities account for 90 per cent of all its operations.

The SAJ has been deliberate in making innovative improvements to the working conditions of the port workers in alignment with the widespread use of containers, increasing volume of transport and the demands of international trade. The reforms undertaken by the SAJ has had a ripple effect in the modernisation of the industry on a whole, not just in Jamaica, but in other parts of the Caribbean as well. These reforms continue to enhance and create changes in the organisation, structure and management of port workers. In addition to being a supplier of port labour, the association has an integral role and a strong presence in the Jamaica maritime industry and has paved the way for the integration of modern techniques in globally recognised training, technology use and container cargo handling.

The regional impact of the SAJ will also be recognised and celebrated during its 80th year. The association played a leading role in the establishment of the Caribbean Shipping Association under Noel Hylton when he was the general manager of the SAJ. The Caribbean Shipping Executives Conference of the Caribbean Shipping Association returns to Jamaica in May and will be hosted in Kingston as a part of the year of celebrations. In fact, the anniversary church service kicks off a series of commemorative activities to be staged by the SAJ throughout the year.

Among the attendees at the service were Commissioner of Customs Velma Ricketts-Walker; president of the Caribbean Maritime University, Professor Fritz Pinnock; executive director of Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Rear Admiral Peter Brady, as well as members of the SAJ, representatives of its managing committee, management, and staff.