The “Day of the Seafarer” was first celebrated on 25th June 2011. After 11 long years, one would imagine that things have changed for the better for seafarers. But that is not the case. The litany of sins committed against the men and women who toil at sea has not grown shorter. The following are seven of the things that have not changed:

  • Seafarers are still having to cope with the training overload.

  • Crew abandonment still happens, and the shipowners involved don’t even get a slap on the wrist.

  • Many seafarers are still being denied shore leave.

  • Sexual harassment and gender discrimination on board ships are still a serious problem.

  • Dishonest crewing agents in Manila are still skimming money from the dollar remittances of seafarers by manipulating the foreign exchange rate.

  • Unions are still raking it in from their collective bargaining agreements with shipowners and from members’ contributions.

  • IMO is still selling the print and digital editions of STCW (International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) and denying seafarers free online access to the Convention’s full text.

The foregoing won’t stop maritime folks from celebrating the “Day of the Seafarer”. As in previous years, they will sing paeans to seafarers and declare their unwavering love for “the heroes of global trade”. Let them. It is good exercise for the vocal chords.

~ Barista Uno

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