Women and minority groups are especially exposed to bullying and harassment at sea. This is shown in a scientific article by Cecilia Österman and Magnus Boström at Kalmar Maritime Academy at Linnaeus University.
Cecilia Österman and Magnus Boström’s article Workplace bullying and harassment at sea: A structured literature review, published in Marine Policy, accounts for a systematic review of published scientific literature on bullying and harassment at sea.
Negative special treatment takes place at all types of workplaces and the causes can often be found in the organisational and social work environment. Common contributing factors include unclear roles, tasks and responsibilities, high workload, and managers who often lack the knowledge, tools, and time to work proactively with the work environment.
One factor that contributes to the fact that the maritime industry is particularly at risk of workplace bullying and harassment is the fuzzy boundaries between work and private life on ships where the crew work and live together, often for long periods at a time
Ms. Österman explains.
The article shows that not much has happened since the first study on the topic in 1995. Today, the number of people being bullied and harassed at sea varies between 8% to 25% of all seafarers and over 50% of all women seafarers.
Managers ashore and officers on board must be provided with sufficient resources, useable tools and adequate time to be able to work proactively to reduce the factors that make up the breeding ground for bullying and harassment at the workplace
The authors of the report, also highlighted the need to ask new types of questions to gain better and deeper insights about the work conditions on board.
Considering the predicted future shortage of qualified people for the maritime industry, measures are needed to improve the recruitment of new personnel and to retain existing staff.
Recently, Nautilus noted that it will continue its efforts to tackle the sexual harassment of seafarers and other cross-border workers through a motion at the UK Trades Union Congress (TUC) Women’s Conference 2022.
The Union is supporting a motion by the Unison union on combatting sexual harassment in the workplace at the conference, which runs from 9 to 11 March.
Nautilus has contributed an amendment to the motion which seeks to provide support to women whose work and employment arrangements makes it more difficult to access immediate assistance, and to seek legal redress for seafarers and other cross-border workers.
The Unison motion that Nautilus is supporting “welcomes the UK government’s announcement (July 2021) that they intend to introduce a duty on employers to protect staff from sexual harassment, protections from third party harassment, and to look at extending the time limit for employment tribunal cases. Achieving the changes to the law is urgent.”
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