Shipping industry fondly remembers James 'Jimmy' Scarlett
Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, is quoted thus: "Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."
This statement encapsulates the life and philosophy of James Oral Scarlett, former chief marine engineer at Maritime Towing Company Ltd (a member of the Maritime and Transport (MTS) Group, who died on Saturday, June 24, 2017.
Scarlett joined the MTS Group in 1996 as chief marine engineer working on the Harbour Tugs 'Port Maria' and 'Ocho Rios', and continued in that job until the time of his death. The tugs are used by local marine pilots to berth and unberth ships entering and leaving the Kingston Harbour. Scarlett was a member of the team of officers, captains and engineers responsible for the 24-hour availability of this tug service, which is essential to shipping.
Prior to that, he worked at Petrojam Ltd and Port Cold Ltd/Cold Port Ltd.
In the reflections on Scarlett's life by his co-workers and associates, a pattern emerged. Underneath the remembrances, they are agreeing that he was a good man. Good in the old-fashioned sense of trust, humility, and strength of character.
Carl Scott, senior manager of technical services at the Port Authority of Jamaica, expressed the view that the excellent work was a by-product of Scarlett's excellent character. Scott continued, "Scarlett will be remembered for his dedicated work attitude. When an unforeseen failure of equipment occurred, he would approach the repair with resilience and tirelessness as he restored the tug to working order to avert any delay for the ship or ports. When dealing with such challenges, he met them with a quiet but firm disposition. He was a good leader who led by the example of his keen work etiquette. Through these fine qualities, he earned the respect and admiration of all the officers and crew."
Scarlett is a graduate of Kingston College, where four of his sons are current students, continuing a family tradition. He later went on to Jamaica Maritime Institute (now Caribbean Maritime University), where he obtained his certification as a marine engineer.
Scarlett's life supports these kind recollections of those who worked with him. For example, Scarlett was a representative for workers' right through his position as chief union delegate with the Union of Technical Administrative and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP). It is also worthy of note that during his tenure as chief delegate, there was no industrial dispute during the negotiation periods, demonstrating his ability to balance advocacy for the workers with the interests of the shipping sector. This is a critical skill as it directly affects the stability of what is an essential service.
St Patrice Ennis, general secretary of UTASP, remembers Scarlett as a man who never raised his voice and never showed anger and one who always placed an emphasis on family and family benefits during negotiations. He also recalls Scarlett's willingness to sacrifice his time and talents negotiating even if the benefits did not accrue to him personally. His colleagues trusted him to be unselfish and he always honoured that trust.
He will be missed greatly by his co-workers and all those who interacted with him in the shipping industry as he has left an undeniable mark on them all.