Drumming up the abuse of cadets in a deaf world

Drumming up the abuse of cadets in a deaf world

Who gives a hoot in Manila about maritime cadet exploitation?

I first wrote about the use of Filipino cadets as unpaid office workers and servants in September 2013. I was hoping that the article would draw the attention of the powers that be to this form of exploitation. I even entertained the idea that the maritime press in Manila would pick up the story and delve into the matter. Nothing of the sort happened.

Feeling quite dismayed, I stayed away from the subject until 2019, when I came up with four blog posts in a bid to revive the whole issue. Except for strong reactions from some seafarers on social media, my message seemed to fall on deaf ears. But how could it be otherwise?

In this part of the planet, manning agencies and some unions consider it perfectly normal to use cadets as unpaid labour, in many cases for months on end. The seafarer charities are aware of the practice, but none has come out to publicly condemn it. As for local maritime journalists, many would rather kiss ass than take up the cudgels for the cadets who are exploited in such blatant manner.

For those interested, here are the articles on the subject that have appeared in this blog:

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Life on the waterfront: an invitation to photographers

Life on the waterfront: an invitation to photographers

There are few places in a town or city that are more interesting than the waterfront. Shopping malls certainly do not have the same kind of energy and atmosphere one finds at the wharves and piers, on boardwalks and esplanades. With this in mind, Marine Café Blog is inviting all photographers to submit their photos for an upcoming special feature. No prize is at stake. This is a celebration of life on the waterfront and the Joy of photography. I hope you’ll take part in the celebration.

Guidelines for Photographers

1. Your photo/s should depict life on the waterfront — e.g., cargo being unloaded on a wharf, people sitting or taking a stroll on the waterfront, a sailor messing about in a boat.

2. Entries should have a width of at least 1280 pixels, in colour or monochrome. They shoud not bear any markings. You may submit a maxium of three photos.

3. Titles or captions are optional, but you should indicate the year when the photo was taken.

4. Photos will be judged according to composition, content and overall impact. Preference will be given to photos with a strong human interest and photos that are not heavily edited.

5. Ten or more of the outstanding photos will be featured in Marine Café Blog with proper credits given to the photographers.

6. Email your photos to marinecafeblog@gmail.com or post them on Facebook as comments on the announcements.

7. DEADLINE for submission of photos has been extended to 31st of January 2020, 12:00 PM GMT.

Enjoy clicking!

Coping with seafarer exploitation and writer’s fatigue

Coping with seafarer exploitation and writer’s fatigue

I had always thought that writer’s fatigue affected only hacks and potboiler authors. I did not expect that a severe form of the condition would hit me. It was so severe that I announced in October 2018 that Marine Café Blog would shift its focus. No more talk of seafarers’ rights. Instead, I would focus on “soft” topics: marine art, photography, literature and culture.

After writing about seafarers’ rights for almost a decade, I felt drained and defeated. The abuses against seamen were continuing. It was as if ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (the so-called “bill of rights” of seafarers) had never existed.

I began to realise that writers who speak candidly on seafarer issues would never receive popular support. Certainly not from the maritime charities and the unions! Those folks are busy doing their own thing. They won’t bother to encourage writers who are championing the same cause as theirs.

I began to realise that writers who speak candidly on seafarer issues would never receive popular support.

 

It all seems absurd. But I recall what French author and philosopher Albert Camus once said: “Accepting the absurdity of everything around us is one step, a necessary experience: it should not become a dead end. It arouses a revolt that can become fruitful.”

And so here I am in 2020, still writing about the myriad ways seafarers are being exploited and abused. I am rebelling against what has, over the years, offended my sense of right and wrong, my sense of human decency. I am also rebelling against the hypocrisy of those whose hearts bleed for seafarers. My revolt may not break any chains, except probably my own.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Why stealing dollars from Filipino seafarers is so easy

Why stealing dollars from Filipino seafarers is so easy

In June of 2018 Marine Café Blog exposed the rampant practice in Manila of shortchanging seafarers in the conversion of their dollar remittances to pesos. Uncrupulous manning agents are still at it in 2020. All told, they rake in millions annually without getting even a slap on the wrist for their financial mischief. Why this deplorable state of affairs continues is not hard to understand: the system facilitates the stealing.

Under state regulations (incorporated in the standard contract for seafarers), foreign employers of Filipino seamen are required to remit at least 80 percent of their monthly basic salaries. The dollars have to be transferred through an authorised Philippine bank and paid once a month to the seafarer’s designated allottee (wife, mother or some other family member).

And there’s the rub. The money does not go directly to the allottee’s bank account. The manning agency receives the dollars and takes care of converting them to pesos for disbursement to the families of the crew. In effect, it acts a middle man between the bank and the recipients of the funds. There is no alternative mode by which the families can receive and spend the money — an international debit card, for instance. No dollars for them, only pesos.

There is no alternative mode by which the families can receive and spend the money — an international debit card, for instance. No dollars for them, only pesos.

Manning agencies are obliged to follow the exchange rate indicated in the credit advice from the bank. But this rule might as well have not existed. It is standard practice for many crewing firms to shave off one peso (more in some cases) from the foreign exchange rate, which means less money going to the seafarer’s family.

This is pure and simple embezzlement. It is not only the system or the culture of dishonesty in Manila that helps perpetuate the crime. It is also the failure of the local maritime unions, the seafarer charities, the various other NGOs, and the press to openly condemn the practice. Their silence makes them complicit.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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Climate row: the many names they call Greta Thunberg

Climate row: the many names they call Greta Thunberg

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg was Time’s 2019 Person of the Year. Given the amount of bashing the 17-year-old has had to put up with from adults, she deserves another title: Punching Bag of the Year. Greta has been called more names than Donald J. Trump, Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un combined — or Hitler and Stalin, for that matter.

An article in The American Conservative magazine has tried to justify the attacks on Greta with a bit of sophistry. It argues: “Greta cannot be simultaneously old enough to voice her views on one of today’s most important issues and be too young to be criticized for the things she says.” The author, one Bill Wirtz, is implying that all criticism is valid. Hasn’t he heard of ad hominem, a form of argument in which one personally attacks another instead of focusing on the issue?

This type of logical fallacy threatens to dominate the entire climate change debate. Just consider the numerous labels pinned on Greta by those who, paradoxically, accuse her of being too emotional and too immature to understand what’s going on in the world. Sadly, the insults have come, not only from internet trolls and self-declared pundits, but from the conservative media and some world leaders. 

“brainwashed”
“silly hysterical girl”
“sick girl”
“hypocrite”
“just someone’s puppet”
“bitch”
“scowling teenager”
“a heroine whose virtue is anger”
“fanatic”
“mentally ill puppet”
“a well trained and handled puppet”
“a pawn in an elite globalist agenda she doesn’t understand”
“Brat Out of Hell”
“Stupid little kant”
“a big joke”
“a little teenage girl with mental illness”
“a teen being manipulated by her parents”
“a little girl with a big ego”

“an evil conceited child”
“a useful fool”
“brat”
“a mouthpiece for her activist parents”
“a deluded teenager”
“a Preventing Solutions Fraud”
“a paid shill out there to wreck the world”
“mad”
“dangerous”
“stupid idiot”
“weird Swede with a bad temper”
“fool”
“child communist”
“mentally ill Swedish child”
“a political pawn being used by the left”
“little climate-brainwashed pit bull”
“a pawn and a fraud”
“a tool of the hoaxers”

One need not be a believer in man-induced climate change to see that such attacks are puerile and tasteless. Perhaps the most vicious are those that mock Greta for her Asperger’s syndrome. To Greta’s credit, she is candid about it and even declares it in her Twitter profile. She has handled the tsunami of personal attacks against her with unusual courage, maturity and class. Adults have a lot to learn from this girl.

~Barista Uno

The Marine Cafe Blog

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