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Is a strike necessary to induce action?


A strike can have dire consequences when launched for the wrong reasons

A disturbing piece by Frank Coles (formerly from Wallem) surfaced online, questioning if a fortnight-long strike is needed to induce some improvements to life at sea. In a piece for Splash where Coles lamented about the way seafarers are treated, he was not pleased with how the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) address the crew’s crisis.

Provoking a reaction
Flabbergasted at the degree of seafarers’ mistreatment, Coles is toying with the idea of seafarers’ starting a strike to compel the stakeholders into implementing improvements. While compassion towards seafarers is good, making emotionally-charged decisions can have dire consequences that Coles unfortunately overlooked.

Noting how the shipowners and charterers continue to incorporate clauses inhibiting crew change; the bodies’ failure to stop unacceptable actions spilled over to abuse. The term “Corporate Social Responsibility” is nothing more than lip service.

The danger of emotionally-charged acts
As much as Coles may be livid over the inaction (deliberate or otherwise), there are no benefits from doing something just to get the point across – especially when one has no upper hand. This principle applies to any industry. Jacki Condon, Managing Director of Apache Security Services warned of the implications of strikes and labour unrest.

“Strikes and labour unrest have marked negative impacts on the employees themselves, the employers and stakeholders, the government, consumers, and the economy. The negative effects on international trade include the hindrance of economic development, creating great economic uncertainty – especially as the global media continues to share details, images and videos of violence, damage to property and ferocious clashes between strikers and security,” he stressed

Labour law expert, Ivan Israelstam seconds the view. He commented, “The employer is likely to lose revenue due to delayed service to clients or to lost production time. The employees will lose their wages due to the no work, no pay principle. If the strikers are dismissed they will lose their livelihoods altogether.” Hence, while one may commend Coles for his passionate compassion towards the mistreated seafarers, it is hoped seafarers will consider the possible implications.


Crewing Online Media Team
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