A survey released by the International Transport Workers’ Federation has highlighted the need for continuing work on wellbeing among seafarers, as well as for debunking myths about HIV/AIDS.
The major findings came in response to the questions about general wellbeing, with many of those quizzed reporting worries about weight, depression and alcohol use. On average half of them were worried about their weight, while almost 60 percent experience back/joint pain at work. In one labour supplying country 75 percent know workmates who are depressed.
The results of this survey fly in the face of the recently published Manpower Report 2015, in which it was stated that ”the majority of seafarers are content with life at sea.”
It was also found that many myths about the transmission of HIV/AIDS still remain, says ITF, including in one labour supplying country where only 17 percent of respondents believed condoms are effective in preventing it, and 46 percent believe it can be spread in food and drink.
The new report follows similar ITF surveys in the civil aviation and ports sectors, but for the first time includes questions on general health and wellbeing, so as to achieve a holistic overview of seafarers needs and concerns, and in order to ”normalise” HIV/AIDS as something within the broader health context, rather than a cause of stigma and fear.
”We believe this is the most exhaustive current investigation into this subject, and we offer its findings to everyone concerned with the welfare of seafarers,” ITF maritime coordinator Jacqueline Smith explained.
”We carried out this research to identify the needs and concerns of seafarers, and to show us how we can best address them within the ITF’s longstanding and pioneering HIV/AIDS programme. The results speak for themselves, and we will – with the agreement of the ITF seafarers’ section, which sponsored this survey – plan a comprehensive programme of action accordingly.”
Another, broader survey, carried out by Crewtoo social media platform, has shown a seafarer satisfaction level of 6.42 on a scale of 1 to 10 about key issues including general happiness, contact with family, shore leave, wage levels, food, fitness and health, training, interaction onboard, workload, and access to welfare facilities.
The issues that concerned seafarers the most included the need for onboard Internet access, the risk of stress and fatigue from increasing workloads, and the lack of shore leave. For example, seafarers mentioned that Internet access onboard ”makes life at sea easier” and a number of respondents expressed the concern that ”if connectivity does not become common on vessels, the industry might be unable to attract any new seafarers in the future.”
”Satisfied, well fed, fit, and engaged seafarers are vital to the present and future of the industry,” said Anneley Pickles, head of Crewtoo business development.
”Happy people stick around, happy people work well, they embrace challenges, they look to excel and share with others. In short, happiness matters and it needs to be measured, assessed, and understood. The lessons then need to be applied to ensure that we are looking after seafarers properly and responding to their wants and needs.”