While the general picture about seafarer happiness might be better than two years ago at the nadir of the markets, there will always be bad shipowners out there, according to the secretary general of charity Mission to Seafarers.
Andrew Wright, who has headed up the mission since 2013, tells Maritime CEO that in many parts of the world his organisation is seeing very significant improvements in how seafarers are treated after years of tales of crew neglect. This is not just because of improving markets, with Wright suggesting the change is also down to the enforcement of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), more responsible companies operating, and much lower tolerance from ports to bad behaviour, with the charity boss heaping special praise on authorities in the UAE who have done more than most in the last couple of years to go after poorly behaved operators.
“There will always be bad owners,” Wright then cautions.
The mission’s Seafarer Happiness Index shows clearly that life at sea remains hugely challenging with many mental issues from being away from loved ones for such long periods.
Wright is adamant that internet access for all working at sea will become part of MLC within five years. He hears how seafarers on occasion will now choose connected ships over better wages.
Wright believes the mission’s biggest contribution to maritime welfare is via its port support networks through which it can make its biggest impact via ship visits, its transport network and also its trauma work. It has also been developing family support networks. This has stretched across the Philippines with pastoral, financial and legal support and now the mission is developing new networks in Myanmar, India and Ukraine.