The Seafarers Happiness Index published by The Mission to Seafarers this week highlights crew concerns about racism and a lack of support dealing with it along with concerns about a lack of shore leave to relieve stress.
The index, undertaken in association with P&I insurer the Shipowners’ Club, shows that overall seafarer happiness dropped to 6.13/10 from 6.59 the previous quarter. The data comes from over 2,000 respondents, with surveys completed in the final quarter of 2019.
Happiness concerning interaction with other crew dropped to 6.67/10, down from 7.28. Accounts of racism were raised, and victims do not feel they have anywhere to formally complain or ask for support. This is an area of concern that has been mirrored in earlier reports of sexism, says The Mission to Seafarers. The report states: “Company procedures, it seems, maybe failing those who are most vulnerable while supporting those who cause problems for those they work with.” Some seafarers called for an independent complaint line or procedure to be made available.
Responses regarding shore leave show that some seafarers are not able to reap the benefits of welfare facilities ashore, and The Mission to Seafarers is calling for an industry-wide drive to ensure correct visas are acquired so that seafarers are able to enjoy the benefits of shore-based welfare facilities whilst in ports and terminals. The report states: “ From the demands of work in port, to costs and immigration hurdles, through to the fact that they often feel too fatigued to even face leaving the ship, the problems are many. Despite new rules that ports are meant to abide by, it seems to be no easier to get ashore.”
Fears over alcohol policies were also raised. ““While no-one would condone ‘enjoying’ time ashore so much that a seafarer would be in breach of drug and alcohol policies, crew members need to be able to relax and recuperate,” states the report. “Once again, the phrase used was that ‘shore leave is dead.’ Perhaps we need to rethink an alternative. It is clear that seafarers do need a release from the pressures they face, and if that is not ashore, then what and how?”
Taking into consideration the then-impending global sulfur cap, which took effect on January 1, The Mission to Seafarers says it is not unexpected to see a rise in concern among seafarers over changes in workload and responsibilities resulting from new regulations. There seem to be continuous claims of pressure surrounding inspections and audits in addition to the demands of day-to-day administration and paperwork.
Seafarers’ happiness with their ability to keep in contact with loved ones when at sea rose this quarter. The data demonstrates that crews who have good quality, low-cost access to the internet and good communication with their families are far happier than those who do not.
Happiness levels among seafarers in the cruise sector have continued to rise, with a general upward trend in views on opportunities for career development within the industry.
Steven Jones, Founder of the Seafarers Happiness Index, commented: “After our two previous reports, it is a very positive sign to see that the levels of happiness among seafarers in the cruise sector continue to rise to 7/10, from 5.3 in the second quarter and 6.3 in the third quarter of 2019. It is also great to hear of the pride seafarers feel when providing for their families and communities. There is a sense of sacrifice, but where that translates into tangible positives for the families, seafarers are happier in their role.”
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