Half of Seafarers Unable to Keep in Touch with Their Loved Ones

A recent survey shows that up to half of seafarers don’t have reasonable access to communication in order to keep in touch with their family and friends.

The 2014 Crew communications survey  issued by Futurenautics Research in association with InterManager, ISWAN, PTC, BIMCO and CrewToo shows that while access to communications has been improving, it is far poorer in some sectors – where up to 30 percent of crew have no access to a telephone.

The survey, which involved almost 3,000 respondents from more than 30 countries, found that only 56 percent of seafarers had access to communications always or most of the time.

The authors point out that the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), now ratified by 61 countries, stipulates that seafarers should have “reasonable” access to communications at “reasonable” cost.

They found huge variation in the provision of communications, with the poorest levels in the container, bulk and general cargo sectors.  According to the survey, many of the 6 percent of crew who never have access to communications work in these branches.

While an average of 76 percent of seafarers had access to a telephone, in general cargo over 30 percent of respondents still had no access to one.

Similarly, while almost 70 percent of crew in the passenger and offshore sectors had access to the internet, this was available to only 20 percent of crew in the container, bulk carrier and general cargo sectors.

The survey also found that seafarers spent an average of USD134 a month on communications while at sea and USD139 a month while ashore.

Roger Harris of ISWAN (International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network) said: “Communications are the number one welfare priority for seafarers.

There is a lot in this report for seafarer welfare organisations to consider. One key finding is that seafarers are still paying too large a proportion of their monthly wages on communications, both at sea and ashore.”

Full survey can be accessed here.

Press Release; July 11th, 2014

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