Sailors Struggle: Q2 2023 Happiness Index Reveals Uphill Battle Ahead

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Credit: Ship Management
  • The Mission to Seafarers has published the latest Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) report for Quarter 2, 2023, revealing a notable decline in overall happiness.
  • The latest report shows an overall fall in seafarer happiness from 7.1/10 to 6.77/10, compared to Q1 2023.

Eroding Satisfaction

The average contentment of seafarers has slid from a peak of 7.69/10 in Q4 2022 to 6.77/10 in Q2 2023, indicating a consistent decline since pre-pandemic levels.

Seafarers voiced their challenges in fully restoring pre-pandemic standards for work and living conditions. Concerns encompassed crew rotations, time spent onboard, wages, and shore leave, underscoring the lingering impact of the pandemic.

Post-COVID Dilemma

The pandemic spotlighted significant hurdles like crew change disruptions, extended onboard durations, and decreasing wages, leading to worsened work conditions. Despite recovery, the reversion to pre-pandemic norms remains elusive, generating frustration among maritime professionals.

A major concern was the shortage of available drinking water. This requires immediate attention, as it was a common problem from those responding to the survey, despite this being explicitly covered by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

Urgent Reforms Needed

Urgent appeals for standardized protocols and increased shore leave options continue. Addressing this issue is crucial to offer seafarers chances for rejuvenation and leisure activities ashore.

Violations of work and rest hour regulations, infringing upon the Maritime Labour Convention’s (MLC) provisions, remain rampant. The lack of work-life equilibrium is a growing concern.

Wage Worries

Distress over wages looms large, with reports of sporadic payments during onboard periods and extended spans of unpaid work labeled as “experience gaining.” This parallels modern slavery concerns. Stagnation in wages over 15 years further widens the gap between compensation and workload.

Addressing the issue of wage stagnation becomes imperative to bridge the disparity between seafarers’ contributions and their remuneration. Just and timely adjustments are needed to truly reflect the industry’s appreciation for their efforts.

The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, said: “The Seafarers Happiness Index is a vital resource that allows us to gain invaluable insights into the wellbeing of seafarers and the evolving challenges they face. We are grateful to all seafarers who participated in the survey and shared their experiences, which helps us advocate for meaningful changes on the issues that matter most to them”.

“It is extremely disappointing to read of contracts being altered or disregarded, leading to payment issues, salary cuts, rising taxes, and increased living costs, as well as such fundamental requirements such as good quality meals, access to shore leave and manageable workloads. All seafarers are fully entitled to expect fair compensation for their hard work, dedication and commitment to keeping international shipping moving. It is incumbent upon all of us to address these issues and make the improvements required to enhance seafarers’ working conditions, wellbeing and job satisfaction.”

Thom Herbert, Idwal Senior Marine Surveyor and Crew Welfare Advocate, commented:

“We at Idwal are deeply concerned by the findings of The Mission to Seafarers’ Q2 2023 Seafarers Happiness Index report, which highlights the continued decline in overall happiness among seafarers worldwide. Struggles with working and living conditions, crew changes, time spent on board, wages, and shore leave are particularly disheartening. Issues like unmanageable workloads, limited internet access, and inadequate gym facilities further exacerbate hardship but we are particularly troubled to hear of a lack of available drinking water. All these findings underscore the urgent need for industry-wide efforts to improve the wellbeing of seafarers.”

Capt. Yves Vandenborn, Head of Loss Prevention Asia-Pacific at NorthStandard, added:

“NorthStandard is concerned about the frustrations voiced by seafarers as the Seafarers Happiness Index has fallen for a second consecutive time in 2023. The report spotlights issues in areas such as crew changes, stagnant wages, increased workloads, and limited access to shore leave. Happiness levels falling across all categories signals a sustained drop in positivity and the responses from seafarers paint a worrying snapshot of the conditions they are experiencing. The club will continue to raise awareness of the key issues in a bid to enhance seafarers’ working conditions, overall wellbeing, and satisfaction within the maritime industry.”

The next phase of the initiative will take place during London International Shipping Week in September 2023, where further progress will be made in transforming feedback into concrete action.

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Source: Ship Management