Tuesday, November 10, 2020

New Report Highlights Widespread Malpractice as Seafarers Abused

Flag States and Ship Owners Accused of Maladministration
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – A report on systemic failures in the implementation of the regulatory regime for seafarers’ hours of work and rest has caused the ITF Seafarers Trust, a leading advocate for maritime workers’ rights, to call for major reform in enforcing international agreements.

The paper, ‘A culture of adjustment’ by the World Maritime University (WMU), confirms previous research that suggested recording malpractices are widespread, which seriously questions the capacity of the current regulatory framework to prevent fatigue and mitigate its effects.

According to the ITF, the report indicates that insufficient manning is the root cause of violations, especially during peak workload conditions. They assert that the imbalance between workload and manning levels indicate that flag States are not always fulfilling responsibilities, nor do they ensure that ship owners carry out theirs with due regard to efficient and sufficient manning levels on board ships.

In a statement the ITF said :

“The conclusions of the research are shocking in their revelation of a system that looks good on paper but in fact masks an insidious unspoken collusion, which ultimately negatively impact the effectiveness of international Conventions. It seems that all stakeholders are aware of the problems but lack the authority or willingness to address the root causes.

”This report throws down the gauntlet to the States that have ratified the Conventions in good faith and must now acknowledge that significant change in ensuring effective implementation of the instruments is needed to retain their credibility.”

This was reiterated by Dave Heindel, Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, who commented:

“The ITF Seafarers’ Trust was pleased to provide financial support for this independent research by WMU. The findings are devastatingly comprehensive. Now the onus in on flags States, ports States, industry and unions to come together for the benefit of the seafarers to facilitate cultural change and restore the credibility of international maritime regulations.”

The organisation is calling for action to be taken on three areas identified by the report’s authors that require urgent attention. The first is the need for collaboration on a research-based model for determining safe manning for all operational conditions. The second is a review of the effectiveness of the ISM code and the third is to consider the ‘chronic mistrust between shore and ship personnel combined with the job insecurity characteristic of numerous seafarers’ working contracts’.