The latest Seafarers Happiness Index report, published by The Mission to Seafarers, has revealed real insight into the lives of seafarers during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, the report reveals seafarer happiness is lower, with clear concerns about current safety and welfare provision for those serving at sea. Seafarers are urgently calling for improved connectivity between shore and sea and the need for greater support across the industry during this unprecedented time.
The index, undertaken in association with the Shipowners’ Club and Wallem Group, is a tool for measuring the experiences of seafarers across the global maritime industry. The latest report has provided a platform for seafarers to share their experiences of life at sea during the pandemic, with overall seafarer happiness dropping to 6.30 in Q1 2020, down from 6.39 since Q4 2019. This is a special Covid-19 report which focuses on workload, shore leave and interaction of crew on board, as these were the main areas raised by seafarers within this quarter’s survey. The drop in the index would surely have been more significant had the survey been taken latter.
Across all responses, the call from seafarers was clear. The combination of increased workloads to keep vessels to “hospital standards” of hygiene, extended contracts and increased isolation leaves the majority of seafarers feeling stressed, anxious and exhausted.
Seafarers need better connectivity, including internet access as a basic necessity to combat isolation and to improve the connection between sea and shore to ensure seafarers feel protected by the decisions made on shore. Seafarers also voiced anxiety about shore staff boarding vessels given the risk of infection. The industry has a responsibility to ensure seafarers are and feel protected and safe within the workplace.
Steven Jones, Founder of the Seafarers Happiness Index, commented: “This report highlights how essential it is to have a survey where seafarers can share their views. The industry can gain real insights into how we can improve support for our seafarers, particularly in these challenging times. It is paramount that industry calls for seafarers to be recognized as key workers are acted upon and that we support those who are maintaining our global supply chains. Protecting our seafarers is key to protecting our industry. It is our duty and responsibility to provide them with all the tools needed to be safe, particularly while many are prevented from returning home.”
Frank Coles, Chief Executive Officer, Wallem Group, commented: “The relevance and value of the index has never been more important than at this critical time. While it shows a downward trend, I am sure it is nothing to what would be reported if it was done now.”
Still a sense of pride
While this report highlights the increasingly heavy workloads and social tensions on board some vessels, it was also clear that there is pride in the work they do. Now more than ever, it is paramount that the industry puts seafarers at the heart of their decision-making, ensuring vessels are put in a lay-up in locations that have internet access and ports can open, where possible, to allow access to seafarers’ centres.
To read the full report online, click here.