A Significant Humans Rights Issue At Sea
Our clients who in the past have considered Seafarer Welfare in their ESG /Sustainabilty risk assessments, typically assume that because the ships are certified to the international regulations, the issue of Seafarer Welfare is not a risk in their supply chain that needs special attention.
- The Maritime Labour Convention (MLC),
- The STCW – International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers, and
- The Paris MOU,
…for thousands of seafarers, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Somehow, despite all the checks and balances, there is a very high level of human rights abuses currently occurring on the very vessels bringing our products to our shores all over the world.
The Cold Reality for Thousands of Seafarers
- Forced overtime,
- Little or no access to medical treatment,
- No shore leave in many ports around the world,
- Work/rest hours abuses
- Inadequate nutrition,
- Seafarers being lied to about when they will be allowed shore leave or even worse, when they get to fly home to their families,
- Not being paid for months at a time, if at all,
- Crews being forced to sign documents stating they are voluntarily staying at sea for a second 9 month voyage, despite this still being illegal,
- Internet turned off to prevent home and inter-ship communications as well as with labour unions, and
- Rape and Sexual Abuse of Seafarers.
Despite there being adequate rules and standards ‘on paper’ which are ‘enforced’ with regular industry audits and inspections, these humans rights abuses are growing in number every year.
Conflicts of Interest and Corruption
The problem is that there are too many conflicts of interest in the shipping industry. Classification Societies and Flag States, who want to attract ships into their portfolios to generate income, are also responsible for the majority of the inspections. The industry is largely self regulated and lacks transparency.
Furthermore, with the corruption seen across the industry, there is little hope for seafarer welfare standards improving across the industry unless something changes.
Until now, there has been no truly independent shipping vetting service that focuses on Seafarer Welfare, to be offered to importers conducting ESG / Sustainability risk assessments.