25 June – Day of the Seafarer, is it just hot air?
Those in seafaring will certainly hold this date in high regard. Would it be back to square one shortly after, being neglected and invisible because of national interests as it has always been?
Talk versus action
Days to this date, several championing about more can be done to improve the lives of seafarer. “The seafarers sustain 90 per cent of world trade”, “the people who ensure we have food on our tables,” and “they bring to us the equipment and laptops we use as essentials” were the most popular lobby statements.
Unfortunately, the world at large seems to have this continuous fine line of separating empathy and real actions. It is effortless to rally and “provoke reactions” by suggesting a strike to get the message across. However, if any one bothered to pay attention to the current vaccine deadlock – there is still real inaction from several maritime bodies due to lack of governmental backings. InterManager’s CEO pointed out no vaccine producers are willing to sell commercially unless there is an endorsement from the government.
The next question: is cost the real reason? Any skeptics would see through the padding about having authorities’ endorsement, which typically equates to subsidies. InterManager also added that ship managers have expertise in dealing with seafarers across all vessels, which gives them the biggest edge in addressing the seafarers’ access to vaccines.
Would the onus be hurled onto the ship managers by that principle? There is also a difference between moral obligation and organisation inertia. Will the “Never done that” shift to “We can try that”? This will determine the seafarers’ next course of action. Will those who managed to discharge hesitate to return? Plus, whether aspiring seafarers would change their minds about their career choice.
Both reflection and action have varying degrees, from superficially scratching the surface to unusual levels of creativity defending helplessness to do anything. If all stakeholders make a point to embrace the importance of seafarers, there would not be a need for such occasions if they (seafarers) are appreciated every day.