Image Credits: ITF Seafarers
The grim labour market has resulted in desperate seafarers falling prey to scammer agents
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has launched a new web tool to help seafarers avoid fraudulent agents. ITFShipBeSure is a new initiative to protect seafarers’ interests; ensuring they have sufficient resources to make informed decisions before signing the contract.
Knowledge is indeed Power
With the labour shortage pressuring global supply chains, the industry has to battle manpower crunch reasonably soon. That is, if border restrictions remain in force and vaccine distributions are still slow. Reports of seafarers reduced to taking up jobs that pay only a fraction of what they usually earn at sea are new. While the industry can agree it takes time, the critical question is how long the wait will be?
Scammer agents are leveraging on the “Knowledge is Power” principle, actively concealing their shady practices with hopes to lure unsuspecting seafarers into a fire pit. On the other hand, ITF is making available all possible information for seafarers to avoid such pits. It offers rich insights into how seafarers can negotiate fair contracts and avoid shady agents. The website features a directory of manning agents that have been rated by the ITF as either green (safe) or red (avoid). It initially covers India, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. The coverage will be expanded and eventually include more nations.
Steve Trowsdale, the ITF Inspectorate Coordinator, said: “Every year, hundreds of seafarers are scammed or defrauded by manning agents. Our inspectors have long experience in identifying the illegal practices of dubious agents. We wanted to share that knowledge so seafarers can find good, reliable work.” Trowsdale hopes the web tool will stamp out fake, rogue, and non-compliant agents.
The site also helps seafarers understand what makes a good manning agent. Trowsdale highlighted, “ITFShipBeSure also includes a guide to spot these scams and a regularly updated section that highlights the scams we know about. The golden rule is that if a job looks too good to be true, it is almost certainly. Knowing as much as possible is the best way to protect yourself: about a ship you plan to work on, the recruitment process, and the terms and conditions. That knowledge is what we aim to provide through ShipBeSure.”
Crewing Online News Team
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