The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, published yesterday by The Mission to Seafarers, has revealed that seafarer happiness continues to fluctuate – with improvements in connectivity at sea, but also continuing concerns regarding workload among the issues raised by seafarers.
The index, undertaken in association with leading P&I insurer the Shipowners’ Club, is a tool for measuring the experiences of seafarers across the global maritime industry. In the latest report, overall seafarer happiness dropped to 6.13/10 from 6.59 the previous quarter. The data comes from over 2000 respondents, with surveys completed in the final quarter of 2019. In 2020, maritime solutions company, Wallem Group, will be partnering with The Mission alongside the Shipowners’ Club to support this initiative.
Across all vessel types, three key issues emerged from the survey responses over the three-month period: workload stress caused by changes in regulations; a drop in satisfaction with access to welfare facilities ashore; and an increase in racism experienced while at sea.
Taking into consideration the then-impending global Sulphur cap, which took effect on 1 January 2020, it is not unexpected to see a rise in concern among seafarers over changes in workload and responsibilities resulting from the new regulations. There seem to be continuous claims of pressure surrounding inspections and audits, in addition to the demands of ‘day to day’ administration and paperwork.
Responses regarding shore leave show that seafarers are not being able to reap the benefits of welfare facilities ashore, which in turn hugely impacts their wellbeing. There needs to be an industry-wide drive to ensure correct visas are acquired so that seafarers are able to enjoy the benefits of shore-based welfare facilities whilst in ports and terminals.
Importantly, there has been a slump in happiness concerning interaction with other crew this quarter – coming in at 6.67/10, down from 7.28. Troubling accounts of racism were raised, with concerning reports that victims do not feel they have anywhere to formally complain or ask for support. This is an area of concern which has been mirrored in earlier reports of sexism. The industry has a responsibility to recognise these concerns and respond to the calls for an independent complaint line or procedure to support seafarers.
On the positive side, seafarers’ happiness with their ability to keep in contact with loved ones when at sea rose this quarter. The data demonstrates that crews who have good quality, low-cost access to the internet and good communication with their families are far happier than those who do not. This is an encouraging indication of the benefits to seafarers from widespread improvements to connectivity at sea.
In other welcome news, happiness levels among seafarers in the cruise sector have continued to rise, with a general upward trend in views on opportunities for career development within the industry.