Report: Sailors Treated Like Slaves

Wednesday, March 07, 2001
Tens of thousands of sailors on commercial ships are being treated like slaves and live in fear of being thrown overboard if they complain about exploitation and mistreatment, according a report by an independent industry body.

The report “Ships, Slaves and Competition” found that on 10 to 15 percent of vessels, sailors from developing countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia were being subjected to poor safety conditions, excessive hours, unpaid wages, starvation diets, rapes and beatings.

The report said crews told stories of sailors disappearing after complaining to officers and of being blacklisted if they sought union help to collect unpaid wages. “For many thousands of today’s international seafarers life at sea is modern slavery and their workplace a slave ship,” said Peter Morris, the report’s author and chair of the independent industry group International Commission of Shipping.

“The seafarers who suffer the most are from Indonesia and the Philippines, because they supply the bulk of seafarers, the Philippines 200,000 and Indonesia 80,000,” Morris told Reuters. “In those countries there is so little opportunity to earn an income, they are vulnerable, they are cheated and robbed.” The report, delivered at an APEC shipping conference in Sydney, called on shipping companies, cargo owners and port authorities to stamp out the slave conditions within five years. The report will now go to the 21 member economies of APEC -- the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum -- with the aim of issuing a communique on safer shipping. APEC transport ministers are scheduled to meet in Peru in October. Morris said the U.S. Coastguard had been leading the push to clean up shipping in the Atlantic and northeast Pacific. And he said Europe was now on board following a series of accidents, including an incident in December 1999 when the Maltese-registered tanker Erika sank and spewed thousands of tons of oil France’s west coast. Australian transport officials at the conference said it was hoped Japan, the region’s biggest shipping nation, would take a lead role in pushing for safer shipping in Asia.

Sub-standard ships and working conditions were commercially driven by cargo owners looking for the cheapest rates, said the report, compiled by the commission after global hearings. Morris said cargo owners, such as bulk ore and grain operators, should take responsibility for forcing the slave-like conditions on sailors. “How do we end this exploitation and inhumane treatment of working seafarers? One solution is to name the beneficiaries, shame their actions...,” Morris said. Morris said the cost saving of avoiding international safety standards on ships was around 15 percent of annual operating costs, but added if the industry wiped out such operations, overall shipping costs would fall due to lower insurance rates. — (Reuters)

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Windrock Names Kelleher Global Business Development Manager

Edward P. Kelleher will be assuming the new role of Global Business Development Manager – Diesel, effective December 1st.   In this role, Mr. Kelleher will be

Canada to Aid Developing Nations Fight Climate Change

Canada will provide aid to developing countries to combat climate change, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday ahead of talks on global warming,

Sandra Weakens to Tropical Storm off Mexico's Coast

Hurricane Sandra weakened to a tropical storm on Friday and was expected to continue losing strength as it approached Mexico's Pacific coast, the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.


Rates, Fees of Danish Maritime Authority to be Revised

A number of fee rates within the Danish Maritime Authority's area will be changed from 2016. The price schedule is available from the webpage of the Danish Maritime Authority.

Seagull's Software Tool for Benchmarking Seafarers Knowledge

Seagull Maritime has launched an advanced software tool able to benchmark seafarer knowledge levels, allowing shipowners and operators to compare their crew

Los Angeles to Host Annual 'Fleet Week'

Mayor Eric Garcetti and U.S. Navy officials announced today that Los Angeles has been selected as an official Fleet Week market for the U.S. Navy, beginning in 2016.

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0940 sec (11 req/sec)