Seafarers Paying the Price for Industry Woes

Seafarers are still paying the price for the economic problems facing the global shipping industry, the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) said in a new report.

The report shows that the SeafarerHelp service run by ISWAN dealt with a record number of 3,078 new cases involving 11,228 seafarers and their families in 2017, representing a casework rise of 37% from 2016.

“A difficult year for the shipping industry means it was also a difficult year for many seafarers,” Per Gullestrup, ISWAN chairman, said.

“The reality is that when the maritime industry needs to make cost savings, seafarers are often negatively affected.”

The most frequent reason for contact was from seafarers seeking work, and the report suggests “this could well be a reflection of the destabilised labour market”. ISWAN said it had also reported a number of cases in which crewing agencies have been making illegal charges to find work for seafarers.

Failure to pay wages was the second most common issue, accounting for 16% of all cases, while the number of cases involving abandonment of ships and crews more than doubled.

The ISWAN report notes that the shipping industry is starting to recognise the problems caused by social isolation, stress and fatigue, but warns that seafarers still seem reluctant to openly talk about these issues or identify themselves for fear of risking their employment.

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