Including piracy, fatigue, visas and lack of communication facilitites
Jon Whitlow, who is ITF seafarers’ section secretary, said that seafarers have many negatives to face while on board, including piracy, criminalisation, fatigue, denial of shore leave, visas, ISPS and lack of communication facilities. He said that the real issue is to respect seafarers and although seafarers and the human element are often discussed, there are usually very few action points and even less implementation. Even though the ITF had not undertaken a survey on the impact of piracy on recruitment and retention of seafarers, piracy was having an important impact on their morale.
The number of attacks and degree of risk faced by crews would not be tolerated in another industry. Mr Whitlow also said that shipowners and the flag state have a duty of care to the seafarers who serve on their ships and that most of the big flag states have not made the contribution they should have to combating piracy.
Criminalisation of seafarers was also a major concern among seafarers.The International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention promised to raise the bar and hopefully eliminate some unacceptable practices, but it is not a panacea.
Mr Whitlow said that he hoped the minimum standard established under the MLC would be enforced and the major challenge was to ensure ships had social communication services for crew. He said that the next generation is physiologically attached to the internet and the social communication sites. This is the reason why it is important to make this available on ships. Also, social communication should be a mandatory requirement in order to attract and retain the next generation of seafarers.
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