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The fine line between obligation and favour


Do the seafarers a favour, do not ask for one

China’s latest series of port issues causing more delays has gotten the industry wondering if the pandemic is going to remain till at least H1 2022. Almost every observer is wondering how would China wind up after going through several trials.

Everything but the team

Typhoons struck, port staff tested positive for COVID-19 resulting in shut downs only had the industry “panicking” about shipping delays. Carriers were super swift in “notifying” their clients about impending diversions. Above all these noises, nobody mentioned anything about the people onboard the cargo ships.

It is unfortunate not many employers are impartially honouring the “strictly business” term. In some cases, it became heinously selective. Other than activists’ aggressive lobbying for improved welfare which barely made a dent, profits became the sole principle in the sector.

If hiring seafarers is strictly business, the least employers can do is to extend some assistance to the team onboard when incidents happen. For the record, it is an obligation regardless of employment terms. While those cargo ships wait in line to get berthed, there were no mentions of the crew onboard receiving assistance; (for instance) granted communications with families in one way or another while waiting.

Differentiating favour and obligations

Adding insult to injury, even insurers are riding on the fence about COVID-19 coverage. Their stand on remaining unprejudiced in the face of a crew tested positive in the event the latter chose to not be vaccinated was nothing less than disappointing. It was a convenient buck passing to shipowners and employers at large on the decision to include COVID-19 in the insurance coverage.

The next question is: will COVID-19 coverage be “part of business” or deemed a favour? If it is the latter, one cannot fault all activists and maritime bodies for their angst against unfair employers. With all that is happening which are sufficient to crush any seafarer’s patience, they (seafarers) remain remarkably patient. Therefore, do the seafarers a favour, do not ask for one. Their favour is collective experience across decades, while the vice-versa is across a minimum of 11 months.


Crewing Online News Team
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