Lingering fears, worries, and doubts about the ongoing crew change situation continue to dominate the sentiments among seafarers, according to the Seafarers Happiness Index latest report.
The issue of how seafarers will be vaccinated also came to the fore and is likely to be a long-running concern until the solutions and plans are made internationally clear, the Mission to Seafarers said.
“The issue of crew changes is still a huge problem, and while there are some signs of improvement there are still many countries with rising infection rates who are not yet able to deal with the effective movement of crew,” the report reads.
“Sadly, but perhaps unsurprisingly given the problems facing crews, tensions on board appear to be running high. Continuing a trend seen in recent reports, there was an increase in the number of seafarers speaking of bullying, harassment, and friction on their ships. We heard worrying concerns too about xenophobia, and even racism.”
What is more, respondents to the survey pointed to growing pressures to work excessive hours, as well as the issue of fraudulent record keeping, seeing seafarers working 14 to 15 hours every day but being forced to sign a monthly working slip which complies with working hours.
In addition, the workload and the tasks being asked of crew also take a heavy toll, particularly in relation to pressures to reduce manning and rest periods not taken.
On the other hand, there has been some progress with regard to connectivity, with more seafarers being able to get online and connect with friends, family and loved ones back home.
As was also seen in the latter part of 2020, evidence is growing that more shipping companies are working to ensure their crews have access to Wi-Fi.
The report said that the impact of this trend has been positive, with those who can now more easily and cheaply stay connected reporting that it has improved their life at sea.
The average SHI results showed happiness levels of seafarers for the first quarter of 2021 at 6.46/10, a slight increase from 6.37 in Quarter 4 2020.
However, the margins are very fine, and significant leaps in overall happiness are yet to be seen.
“With this quarter’s Seafarers Happiness Index highlighting the huge disparity in workload, happiness levels and welfare onboard, we hope this report helps to keep the spotlight on the urgent needs of our seafarers,” Andrew Wright, Secretary-General of the Mission to Seafarers, said.
“Progress is slowly being made, but we cannot afford to let momentum stall. We hope to see seafarers recognised as international key workers, with the support that entails on everything from crew changes to vaccine access. Above all, we need to keep listening to our seafarers and take practical action now to meet their needs.”
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