The shipping industry has a strong fetish for buzzwords. The latest to ring loud and clear is “crew change” — a slogan spawned by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent stranding at sea of thousands of seafarers. Interestingly, nowhere in ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, as amended can one find the phrase “crew change”. Instead, MLC 2006 talks of repatriation (the word is mentioned 37 times in the main body).
Seafarers don’t expect to be treated like royalty. They just want to carry on without the encumbrances that make working at sea less than satisfying and with the respect from other people that they deserve. The following is a sequel to my earlier post, ’35 things that make like more difficult for seafarers’.
I recently learned a Japanese exercise from a programme shown on NHK World-Japan. It is called radio callisthenics or rajio taiso (literally, “radio gymnastics”) — so named because it was originally broadcast to music on public radio. I think it is ideal for seafarers and other maritime folks who don’t have all the time in the world to exercise.
Life is hard enough for seafarers without other people making it harder. Alas, there is no shortage of individuals, often including one’s kith and kin, who would take advantage of this group of workers. Ironically, some institutions and regulations are the very source of the exploitation and the suffering. The following is a list of things many seafarers have to put up with as they struggle to build a better future for themselves and their families.
There is an upside to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst strewing death and misery along its path, the coronavirus has cast light on the real character of individuals and nations, of entire institutions and industries. Here are some facts about the shipping world that it has brought into sharper focus:
In his splendid 1922 book, All About Coffee. William H. Ukers wrote: “(Coffee) acts upon the nervous system as a powerful cerebro-spinal stimulant, increasing mental activity and quickening the power of perception, thus making the thoughts more precise and clear…” Given how seafarers’ rights continue to be routinely violated, the campaign to promote these rights needs a similar stimulant — a strong push, a fillip. The following are six ways that should help achieve this goal.
The thought of seafarers stranded by the thousands because of the COVID-19 pandemic makes me hark back to a poem in Spanish entitled ‘Perdón si por mis ojos’. It was written by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904 – 1973), winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize for Literature. I am delighted to share this powerful poem together with my English translation. Neruda describes the inner life of the seafarer against a backdrop of water, rock and seaweed.
he coronavirus is deadly but not deadly enough to curtail maritime sloganeering. Paeans to seafarers are once again pouring out in the lead-up to the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ (25th June).
As usual, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) is leading the chorus. The theme it has chosen for this year’s celebration is #SeafarersAreKeyWorkers. The hashtag signifies that the IMO expects the message to spread like a virus on social media and sundry places in the internet.
A great deal has been written about how seafarers’ rights are being violated. Much less is said about why such violations are still common in this day and age when cries for human rights can be heard everywhere. The reasons are really not hard to understand. Listed below are the top five factors behind the continued exploitation of seafarers.
As the novel coronavirus marches on, the global shipping community is hailing seafarers as the “Unsung Heroes of Global Trade”. The slogan sounds nice but hollow. In fact, it is downright disingenuous.
How can the words ring true when thousands of seafarers have been stranded in foreign ports and harbours because of COVID-19? That the problem exists on such a scale shows how the maritime world really regards the men and women who toil at sea: they are commodities.
The coronavirus pandemic is a dark time for the entire world. Even so, it has served to highlight the true state of seafarers’ rights — minus the rhetoric and euphemisms the shipping industry loves to use. The following memes contain some of my personal views on the subject in light of COVID-19. I have created them especialy for seafarers to share with others.
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, thousands of seafarers are stranded in various ports and harbours around the world. It is a hellish situation. The indefinite isolation is enough to cause stress, anxiety, and even depression amongs crew members.
Whatever happened to ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006?