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Shore leave and connectivity key are determinants for manpower

Benefits like shore leave and internet connectivity decide if seafarers sign up

The Seafarers Happiness Index report for Q3 2021 revealed employers overlooked 2 major benefits which are pivotal to new crew’s coming onboard.

Frugality never encouraged
The report produced by The Mission to Seafarers supported by Wallem Group and the Standard Club, highlighted happiness levels increased to 6.59/10, from 5.99 in Q2 2021. It was the same levels as pre-COVID in Q3 2019. Though an improvement in seafarers’ well-being is heartening, shore leave and connectivity issues continue to hinder new talents coming onboard.

Statistics showed 5 per cent of survey respondents expressed they have been at sea for over a year. An additional 13 per cent expressed they were onboard beyond 9 months. While these numbers appeared small, the extended stays deterred seafarers’ return since work durations are unpredictable.

John-Kaare Aune, CEO at Wallem Group remarked: “It is worrying to watch seafarers considering to end their careers from extended periods onboard. In order to keep the world’s supply chains going, we must focus on resuming normal crew change cycles. Most importantly, countries worldwide must treat seafarers as key workers, ease travel and crew change restrictions within their jurisdictions.”

Captain Yves Vandenborn, Director of Loss Prevention at the Standard Club said, “There is an impression that small improvements provided momentary relief, but fundamental issues such as leave and general poor treatment over the course of this pandemic resulted in many seafarers’ reconsidering their careers. Once again, we call upon all key stakeholders to act in taking care of our seafarers.”

The report also found employers’ generosity in internet connectivity also reflected the crew’s value. One seafarer shared his internet onboard costs US$25 for 100MB. Others bemoaned their internet allocation – with one pointed out they were given 250MB for the whole month’s consumption; which was not enough for one video call to their family.

Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, concluded: “We urge every shipowner, operator and manager to study this report, listen to their crew and address their needs. As seen in this latest survey, internet access can be a lifeline for homesick seafarers.” Being onboard for extended periods is akin to being away from civilisation. If employers remain frugal in offering connectivity onboard, feelings of being undervalued will naturally become mutual.


Crewing Online News Team
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