Tributes to union stalwart who fought for seafaring community

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The funeral service will take place today for a proud Liverpool union man who fought tirelessly for the city's seafaring community.

Anthony "Tony" Santamera, also known as Starry, gave almost 40 years of loyal service to the National Union of Seamen (NUS), which was later amalgamated with the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT).

He died at the age of 77 on April 29.

In 1979, prior to being a full-time officer, Tony and others arranged for collections and charity nights to be organised in support of those lost at sea on the MV Pool Fisher (1979) and the MV Derbyshire (1980).

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He also provided support to the Derbyshire Family Association and campaigned continually to find the wreck and secure justice for its lost crew, including offering the facilities of the NUS Liverpool office.

After the Herald of Free Enterprise disaster (1987), followed by the loss of those on the Piper Alpha oil platform (1988), he pressed for improvements to safety standards on ferries, bulk carriers and offshore platforms.

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Tony also actively supported other major disputes, including those involving steel workers, construction, miners, and dockers.

His sister Marianne said: "There are very few people from Liverpool without connections to the sea so Starry was a well-known and much-loved member of the seafaring community in the city and throughout the UK.

"Tony's work with the union stretches back almost 40 years. Throughout his career he worked hard and selflessly with grit and determination to improve the working conditions and pay of men at sea.

"He worked his way up the ranks of the trade union, fighting campaign after campaign until he became National Secretary. This often brought him into conflict with the Government and shipowners.

"However, he would let nothing stand in his way in his fight to improve the lives of the membership and the union won many a victory under his stewardship, often against impossible odds.

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"Time and again he earned the respect and confidence of the union membership, winning election after election. He leaves behind a rich legacy with much of his work still evident today almost 20 years after his reluctant retirement in 2003."

Tony was also presented with the prestigious Merchant Navy Medal for meritorious services to the maritime industry in 2007.

His funeral will take place today (Friday, May 21) from 2pm at Liverpool Parish Church (commonly known as St Nick's or the Seamans' Church) near the Pier Head.

Friends and colleagues can attend the service online via live stream on this YouTube link.

The Santamera family have asked for any donations to be made to the Royal Liverpool Seamen's Orphan Institution here.

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