Seafarers and Families Hit By Cost Cutting
Drewry Maritime Research’s latest Ship Operating Costs Annual Review and Forecast report highlights that 2013 was another difficult year most ship operators, and with weak freight earnings, there was pressure to keep any increase in ship operating costs to a minimum. Drewry says ship operators were able to keep increases in operating costs in 2013 quite low – with increases in total costs typically ranging between 1.0-2.5 per cent depending on the sector.
But behind the financial talk, John Green, director of development for seafarer welfare charity, Apostleship of the Sea, sees a different reality. He says that cost-cutting measures employed by shipowners are putting stress on seafarers and their families. The oversupply of ships and depressed rates have dramatically affected the working lives of seafarers, he says.
“Since the recession began, the seafarers’ charity Apostleship of the Sea has seen large numbers of ships laid up and increases in the cases of non-payment of wages to seafarers as shipowners seek to control costs. Further issues for seafarers more difficult to measure have included a greater reluctance to complain against abuse and poor employment practices for fear of losing their next contract or being blacklisted.
“While pent-up difficulties for shipowners caused by oversupply will take some years to improve, this should be no excuse for quietly ignoring the further stresses and strains this places on seafarers and ultimately their families. One glimmer of hope is the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention. This is progressively being implemented and should improve the social protection for seafarers.”
As the world comes out of recession and shipping markets improve, Drewry expects upward pressure on manning costs to return with increases higher than that seen in 2013.