So What Have We Learned This Time?

Overall Seafarer Happiness has slipped in the 2nd quarter, down to
6.27/10…from 6.31.

We received compelling and fascinating
insights, as well as heartfelt pleas and frustrated opinions
from the global fleet. Through our website and online survey,
social media channels and those visiting our seafarer centres
globally, we were contacted by more than 2000 seafarers.

There are many issues which leap out of the Seafarers
Happiness Index reports, and this time round there were three
key themes that emerged. These surrounded wages, shore
leave, and work load problems.

Seafarers were keen to voice their frustrations about delayed
payment of wages, a problem which seems to be on the
rise according to the crews who spoke to us. There is also a
growing sense of concern about seafarer abandonment, as
crews are feeling vulnerable, as well as frustrated that this
problem seemingly will not go away.

One of the issues which continually gets raised negatively by
seafarers is the difficulty of spending time ashore from the
vessel. It was perhaps more neatly summed up in this report
by one seafarer who said, “Shore leave is dead…”. It seems the
concept of time off is being eroded, and pressures onboard,
costs and hassle mean that not only is it getting harder to
escape the ship, but seafarers see the costs outweighing the
benefits. It seems not only sad that we have arrived at this
point; there are also serious mental health implications which
are of concern.

The erosion of shore leave does not stand in a vacuum, and
where seafarers are battling to maintain positive mental
health, it seems incumbent on us all to explore the issue
of shore leave more deeply. How have we reached a point
where costs, hassle, logistics, manning and the need for rest
over recreation have eroded what was one of the primary
attractions of seafaring, that of seeing the world? People need
a break from their work environment, and so seafarers need
to feel able to take time out too.

The other concern which was voiced repeatedly was
frustration and concern about seafarers having to deal with
office staff ashore. There is a growing sense that crews are
merely an extension of the office, and that seafarers are there
to answer queries or even do work for shore staff whenever
they are asked.

All too often seafarers reported being pulled into office work
ashore, regardless of time zones and watch patterns. Many
spoke of a seeming ignorance ashore as to what work onboard
is like, or a lack of empathy. There were calls for office workers
to better understand seafarer wellness issues, and to ensure
that there is some consideration given when placing demands
on those onboard.

As ever we must thank those seafarers who have taken the
time to share their views with us. It is so important that they
do, as we can then try and find solutions which can make life
at sea better.

We urgently need more data, and to hear the stories of more
seafarers…and for those who have already done so, to share
again. We are building new online capabilities and applications
to process the data to make sure the voices at sea are heard.

We also want to get these reports spread
far and wide across shipping, so please do pass this on.

To view the full results for this quarter, please click here: https://www.happyatsea.org/wp-content/uploads/SHI_Q2_2019.pdf

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