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There is never a dearth of news reports about seafarers being cheated, taken advantage of, oppressed and otherwise maltreated. The whole thing goes on and on, in spite of the many bleeding hearts in shipping. The following is a list of the myriad ways in which the rights of mariners are violated, both on land and at sea. Ironically, some are being overlooked or ignored by the maritime press and by those who profess love and compassion for seafarers.

On  shore

Imposition of unnecessary or redundant training courses

Substandard training instruction and facilities

Selling of training certificates

Bureaucratic red tape

Corruption in maritime regulatory agencies

Illegal exaction of fees by crewing agencies

Demanding gifts from returning seafarers

Use of cadets as unpaid office workers and domestic servants

Stonewalling on the release of death and disability benefits

Favouritism in the hiring of crews

Blacklisting of seafarers who report abuses to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

Short-changing on seafarers’ dollar remittances

Undue delays in the release of family allotments

Ambulance chasing by lawyers

Excessive lawyer’s cut in seafarer money claims awarded

Unethical practices by profit-minded doctors and medical clinics

Practice by some unions of collecting membership fees from seafarers without giving them tangible services and benefits in return

Unions playing footsie with manning agents to the detriment of seafarers

Empty slogans and speeches in praise of seafarers

At sea

Failure to repatriate in time seafarers who are stranded amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Inadequate food and poor accommodation on board

Non-observance of mandated rest hours

Overburdening ship officers with paper work

Usurpation of ship master’s duties and powers by shore managers

Late payment or non-payment of wages

Non-payment of overtime/holiday pay


Mistreatment of Third World crew members by foreign masters and senior officers

Manning of ships below the required minimum levels

Operation of unseaworthy vessels

Lack of safety appliances

Abandonment of crews by shipowners

Sexism and sexual harassment

Denial of shore leave

~ Barista Uno

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