New research from a team at the World Maritime University
(WMU) underlines systemic failures in the implementation of the regulatory
regime for seafarers’ hours of work and rest, undermining the credibility of
international regulations relating to working hours.
‘A culture of
adjustment’, by Dr. Raphael Baumler, Ms. Yvette de Klerk, Dr. Michael Ekow
Manuel and Dr. Laura Carballo Piñeiro confirms previous research that suggested
recording malpractices are widespread, which seriously questions the capacity
of the current regulatory framework to prevent fatigue and mitigate its
particularly concerning with the number of seafarers serving well beyond their
contractual terms and having to take on additional tasks as a consequence of
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Flag States do not always fulfil responsibilities
indicates that insufficient manning is the root cause of violations especially
during peak workload conditions. Imbalance between workload and manning levels
indicate that flag States do not always fulfil responsibilities, nor do they
ensure that shipowners carry out theirs with due regard to efficient and
sufficient manning levels on board ships.
Environment where adjustment instead of accuracy is the logical
insecurity accompanied by financial incentives contributes to an environment
where adjustment instead of accuracy is the logical outcome. For seafarers, the
sole objective of recording hours is to confirm compliance and avoid
disruptions to the schedule.
In such an
environment, requirements for reporting work/rest hours are seen, by seafarers,
as merely a paper exercise.
Deviance is normalized; incentives to accommodate are given
According to the
report, ‘they are trapped in cognitive dissonance, where deviance is normalised.Whilst
the system of regulation relies on port State control for enforcement,
incentives to accommodate are given priority rather than questioning the
veracity of records
Any records are susceptible to the practice of adjustment
A further concern
is the fact that participants in the study, which included representatives from
international and regional maritime organizations, the shipping industry and
maritime unions as well as seafarers themselves, were convinced that any
records are similarly susceptible to the practice of adjustment.
All stakeholders are aware of the problems but lack the authority or
willingness to address the root causes
The conclusions of
the research are shocking in their revelation of a system that looks good on
paper but in fact masks an insidious unspoken collusion, which ultimately
negatively impact the effectiveness of international Conventions. It seems that
all stakeholders are aware of the problems but lack the authority or
willingness to address the root causes.
System is flawed with respect to implementation and needs serious
According to Dr.
Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of the WMU, “This report is a wake-up call
to regulators, industry and seafarers themselves. The system is flawed with
respect to implementation and needs serious attention!”
The findings are devastatingly comprehensive
Chair of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust commented: “The findings are devastatingly