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Work, living conditions of seafarers in Nigeria, others worsen, says report

By Adaku Onyenucheya
09 August 2023   |   3:07 am
The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) report for the second quarter of 2023 has shown that seafarers from Nigeria and other countries are facing significant challenges, leading to a further decline in career satisfaction. According to the report released by the Mission to Seafarers (MTS), an average seafarer happiness level declined from a high of 7.69/10…

Trucks return to Tin Can Port access road despite success of electronic call up system. PHOTO: ADAKU ONYENUCHEYA

The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) report for the second quarter of 2023 has shown that seafarers from Nigeria and other countries are facing significant challenges, leading to a further decline in career satisfaction.

According to the report released by the Mission to Seafarers (MTS), an average seafarer happiness level declined from a high of 7.69/10 in Q4 2022 to 7.1/10 in Q1 2023 and 6.77/10 in Q2.

The MTS report showed that seafarers face uphill battles in their working and living conditions, particularly in areas such as crew changes delay, extended time spent on board, declining/stagnant wages, increased workloads, limited access to internet and shore leave, shortage of available drinking water and inadequate gym facilities, despite being explicitly covered by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC).

The report revealed that the rising global food prices have also impacted seafarers, with low company meal budgets and expense cuts leading to insufficient food supplies, sometimes for two to three weeks.

Recall that the President of Maritime Professionals Forum (MARPRO), Captain Akanbi Oluwasegun, had lamented the gap in monitoring and enforcement of Nigeria’s labour laws and regulations, which allows companies to exploit the economic vulnerability and limited bargaining power of Nigerian crew members, resulting in lower wages, inadequate working conditions and limited career prospects.

The Secretary General of The Mission to Seafarers, Canon Andrew Wright, said seafarers are concerned about their wages, with some reportedly being paid only once during their time on board, with subsequent periods considered “gaining experience” without payment, akin to modern slavery.

He said stagnation of wages in some companies over 15 years led to a significant discrepancy between compensation and workload.

He said this underscores the need for fair and timely adjustments to wages, reflecting the true value of seafarers contributions to the industry.

Wright said the lack of work-life balance and violations of work are common concerns violating the MLC’s provisions.

“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 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, well-being and job satisfaction,” he said.

The Head of Loss Prevention Asia-Pacific at NorthStandard, Capt. Yves Vandenborn frowned at the issues spotlighted in the report, noting that the decline of happiness levels across all categories signals a sustained drop in positivity and paints a worrying snapshot of the conditions seafarers are experiencing.

Vandenborn said the club will continue to raise awareness of the key issues in a bid to enhance seafarers’ working conditions, overall well-being and satisfaction within the maritime industry.