How are you protected?
The ILO's Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) becomes UK law on 20 Aug 2013 and sets out the minimum working and living rights for seafarers. See section 5 for information regarding Codes of Safe Working Practices.
The Convention provides comprehensive rights and protection at work for the world's more than 1.2 million seafarers. It aims to achieve both decent work for seafarers and secure economic interests in fair competition for quality ship owners. As an estimated 90 per cent of world trade is carried on ships, seafarers are essential to international trade and the international economic and trade system. The Convention consolidates and updates more than 68 international labour standards related to the Maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years.
The Convention sets out seafarers' rights to decent conditions of work on a wide range of subjects, and aims to be globally applicable, easily understandable, readily updatable and uniformly enforced. It has been designed to become a global instrument known as the "fourth pillar" of the international regulatory regime for quality shipping, complementing the key Conventions of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
The decision by the ILO to move forward to create this major new Maritime Labour Convention was the result of a joint resolution in 2001 by the international seafarers' and ship owners' organizations, also supported by governments. They pointed out that the shipping industry is "the world's first genuinely global industry" which "requires an international regulatory response of an appropriate kind - global standards applicable to the entire industry".
To find out more about Health and Safety on yachts, in particular the terms of SI2962 relating to codes of safe working practices, visit www.mcga.gov.uk
So, to conclude, I believe everyone's first line of action is to accept personal responsibility for things that are happening in your life. You are working on a particular yacht because you have chosen to be there. If the working conditions don't suit you for whatever reason, it is up to you to change your situation, either by leaving or by being proactive in changing what you don't like in a positive and reasonable way, hopefully for the benefit of all.
Treat yourself and fellow crew members with respect. You don't have to take all the fun out of being part of a young crew, just cultivate some conscious awareness of other people's personalities and their reactions to certain situations. Do you really know that someone who is hyper-sensitive to flirtatious remarks hasn't been sexually abused as a child? Make an effort to ensure you avoid making overly-provocative remarks; give constant flirtatious looks; be seen scantily-clad and so on, particularly if you feel you may be prone or vulnerable to sexual harassment aboard. Be aware of negative attitudes towards sexual conversations and endeavour to be instrumental in creating an atmosphere of respect and dignity toward everyone with whom you work. Each crew member should be aware of their co-worker's comfort zone and learn to interpret the body language given off by less-than-receptive crew members.
In the words of Tucker Max: "People will treat you the way you let them. There is no such thing as 'deserving' respect; you get what you demand from people". So, if you treat yourself and others with respect, it will come back to you. If not, it certainly won't!
Also, if there are no specific rules regarding romances among crew, curb your enthusiasm to touch, fondle and caress your new partner especially during work hours. These actions may make others feel uncomfortable, lonely or irritated. If the crew manual prohibits on board romances, be prepared to lose your job should you engage in an on board relationship.
There is a great deal of documented evidence in the general discussions section (Docktalk) in the Dockwalk Forum (www.mcga.gov.uk
) regarding the indignation and upset experienced by many young women following incidents of sexual harassment with varying degrees of severity. Don't be another victim. If you are being harassed, REPORT IT, either to your HOD, captain or management company, as appropriate and document the incident, keeping the evidence of it for possible future reference.
If employers in the yachting industry are actively working towards creating a harmonious, productive working environment onboard by the careful selection of captains and crew and by enforcing proper punitive measures for misconduct of a sexual nature, then the industry would enjoy a foundation of higher integrity on which to build. As Damien of the Y.CO yacht management team rightly points out: "It comes down to how the yacht is run, both by the captain and by the management company".
Captains who engage in sexual harassment of their crew are really setting themselves up for disaster on many levels, with disgruntled, unproductive crew and the very real possibility of the loss of their jobs, reputation - and maybe even, in some cases, their wives!
If, in extreme cases, you decide you must take legal action, be cognisant of the fact that this could be a long, arduous and costly process and without clearly documented evidence, may be difficult to prove. However, if you need to speak to a lawyer, even just for advice, below are three who specialize in maritime law - the first in France, the second and third in the USA.
1) Frank Benham specialises on giving advice and legal assistance to the yachting and shipping community including crew employment issues, purchase, sale or charter agreements, ship repair and refurbishment contracts, crew injury or casualties at sea and in port. Helpful with any French customs issues. Studied in France and in the UK and has a PhD in Maritime Law.
T: +33(0)4 95 06 11 92
M: +33(0)6 16 96 28 49
Chemin du Littoral Port de Saumaty POB 1
Marseille 13467, France
2) The lawyers of Moore & Co. have more than 30 years of experience specializing in the areas of maritime law, art law, and aviation law. With that extensive knowledge, our law firm in Miami (Coral Gables), Florida services clients throughout the world in these three highly specialized industries. If you're not familiar with these industries, let us walk you through them below.
355 Alhambra Circle
Coral Gables, FL 33134
3) David Irwin, Marine lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.