Many crewing agencies in Manila regularly use cadets as unpaid office flunkeys and even as personal servants, in some cases for months on end. They are the main guilty parties in this egregious exploitation of young aspiring ship officers. But some others are complicit.

 Maritime schools that supply the cadets to the manning agencies and don’t bother to check how they are being treated

Shipowners with cadetship programmes in the country who are mum on the issue of cadet exploitation (their sponsored cadets are given priority by manning agencies that take in flunkeys)

Maritime unions that fail to speak up against the practice (two local unions are known to use cadets as unpaid labour)

The local maritime press, which has failed to take up the issue and would rather praise the manning bigwigs

Academics and researchers who uncritically use the common term “utility’ to refer to cadets, thus helping to perpetuate their objectification.

If it were an arrestable crime to use cadets as unpaid labour, all of the foregoing entities could be considered accessories before or after the fact. Alas, exploiting cadets in this manner is no crime. In fact, it is considered normal practice in this part of the planet.

~ Barista Uno

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