Q1 2020: Wages Still a Concern

The latest Seafarers Happiness Report is a special focus on the impact of COVID-19 on seafarers. We did ask our usual set of questions…and here we find out the answer to the enquiry about…How happy about wages/salary?

  • 6.11 down from 6.47

The issue of seafarer salaries is one that has often split respondents. There is usually a sense of seafarer wages being either good or bad, with little comment in the middle. One comment which captured the mood stated, “the biggest motivation factor for going to sea is salary as there is no life left”. Sadly, that appears to be mirrored in many responses.

As has been mentioned in previous reports, there is a large degree of frustration in crew and junior officer ranks. There is a sense that the leap between their salaries and those of senior officers is too high.

Once more, inflation in seafarer home countries compared to stagnation in wages is an issue which is causing concern. Respondents spoke of being on, “Almost same salary for past ten to fifteen years. Increment in salary per year are tiny, maybe 10 dollars or 15 dollars. Which does little when day to day expenses at home shoot up”.

This was a theme, with seafarers saying their salary was not enough, especially for ratings with a family at home. Seafarers also said that there is insufficient difference between comparable roles ashore nowadays, and that the seagoing salary does not adequately reflect the level of work involved. There was also a feeling that while seagoing salaries are languishing, office staff are seeing increases.

It is not solely about salary levels, there were claims of companies using loopholes to deduct from increased wages. One response claimed that where a seafarer’s basic wage gets an additional US$100, then the Company allowance deducts that same figure from their wages, so we still have the same salary as 10 years ago”.

While another problem was that of how remittance of wages was managed. Seafarers reported that companies often remit wages with a week or more delay, which can cause problems with payments at home. In addition, it was felt that companies are making money from remittance, as they charge each seafarer per transaction, while wages are also cut through exchange rate fluctuations.

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