I have encountered many CEOs of manning companies in Manila. Some were quite admirable: kind-hearted, generous and professional in their dealings. Others were less savoury characters. The following are five of the latter kind. I shall not identify them as I hate to spoil the positive image others might have of them.

AGENT ‘A’

Delayed the release of seafarers’ family allotments and invested the money to earn interest. The practice was so systematic that the standing joke was that his company had its own foreign exchange department.

AGENT ‘B’

Refused to give a ship officer who had suffered a stroke and could no longer work at sea his back wages and overtime pay. Stonewalled the sickly fellow every time he fallowed up his request to be paid.

AGENT ‘C’

Operated a medical clinic on the sly to supplement the manning side of the business. Filipino hotel personnel deployed on cruise ships made to undergo medical examinations more often than the normal once-ia-year check-up.

AGENT ‘D’

Held the title “president” but a foreign national who was officially the company chairman called the shots in violation of the anti-dummy law. Could not make decisions on his own. Even placing an advert in a magazine was subject to the foreigner’s approval.

AGENT ‘E’

Used cadets as unpaid office workers to cook and serve meals to the crewing managers, amongst other things. Required the lads to be in their cadet uniforms whilst on “duty”. Justified the practice by declarng, “You need to break them in”.

~ Barista Uno

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