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Is 2021 a year of bad decisions?

Crew change crisis ruled 2020’s maritime headlines, what can we expect for 2021?

There are 4 more months to end of the year. Other than the pandemic’s chain of reactions impacting maritime, there is an aggressive petition making its rounds collecting signatures to push for improved seafarers’ treatment. All surrounded incidents point to the question of ethics. If one was to sugarcoat the question, is/was 2021 a year of bad decisions?

Inaction is a decision
The crew change crisis left the industry incredibly jaded, and hordes of activists visibly disillusioned. From crew left onboard beyond their contractual months, to the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF) involvement in imploring legal counsels hired by seafarers to take on more cases, it reflects the dilapidated degree of how the commercial stakeholders deem the situation.

Shipowners and charterers being called out on their abandoning of vessels and crew received only slaps on their wrists, after ITF’s intervention. It is fair to say ITF has gone way above and beyond to protect the interests of their colleagues; their successful attempt to recover over $45 million of unpaid wages is a good example. Their vigorous outcry on companies’ deliberate blind eyes to the needs of their crew had minimal impact.

Global carriers are still testing the limits of the already fragile supply chain with “standard practices” including price gouging and dishing surcharges for shippers just to secure cargo space. If relentless complaints of unwarranted additional costs is the only way to get some warranted attention, it reflects the grave situation threatening to smother the supply chain and possibly reshape supply chain operations. That may even open up or normalise more alternative shipping avenues.

Possible implications from bad decisions
Bad decisions are though common, some come off as completely absurd at the possible expense of proving businesses’ worth as exactly so. Costly acts from temporary folly if did not wound businesses, it provided nuggets of opportunity which businesses took to ward off further damages. For those who managed to mitigate some losses, they have their good business acumen to thank. For the rest who are brought to their knees, it was a choice that could have been avoided altogether.