Learning from Covid: treating crew well is good for business

ships crew

Shared from Riviera Maritime Media:
Seafarer employment agencies are stressing the importance of updating best practice and benchmarking pay and benefits to help retain crew and shore staff.

Key issues to help retain crew and shore staff were explored in the Tanker Shipping & Trade webinar: Training, retaining and recruiting tanker crew, post-COVID, which was sponsored by maritime recruitment specialists, Spinnaker.

Spinnaker is an employment agency guided by chairman Phil Parry, who describes its purpose as filling roles for those that wear suits in shipping. Since 2003, Spinnaker has been benchmarking shore-based salaries and runs the Maritime HR Association, which has almost 100 shipowners, shipmanagers, oil companies, and commodity groups as members.

This service has been extended to benchmarking crew salaries and in the tanker sector this covers 74 nationalities across 47 different seafaring roles from 47 different companies. “Benchmarking enables people to understand how to plan budgets and demonstrate to their staff, and to their staff’s unions, that they are paying fairly,” explained Mr Parry.

He added: “Benchmarking is not necessarily about paying the most, or paying the least. It is enabling people to understand where they are paying relative to the marketplace.”

Spinnaker also set up the Seafarers Employers’ Association in 2017, and as part of providing information and commonality, the company developed Daily Wage Cost Reports. This is the daily wage cost of filling a berth, and this enables a shipowner or manager to multiply up to month or annual, for the metric required.

Analysing the data at Spinnaker is reward manager Sandra Briegoos, who highlighted some key numbers. Spinnaker data shows that since 2017 there has been a 2% to 7% increase in pay for senior officers on chemical, crude oil and product tankers, compared to a 3% to 6% increase for those in the bulk sector. Spinnaker also noted that the majority of companies review pay annually.

Ms Briegoos said: “Pay is only one component of it. And we poll our members on information of what produces the package. We gather information on such things as pensions, training, education, and that information is readily available to our members so that they can see what other members in the market are offering their seafarers.”

Interorient Ship Management’s group fleet personnel manager, Mark Parrotte, examined the practical impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on seafarers in the tanker sector. He noted that quarantine and vaccination compliance with national and local travel restrictions is still the main issue and that the pandemic is far from over.

Sailors’ Society responds to stowaway incident off UK coast

blue ship boat chain

Seafarers “extremely vulnerable” to attacks – Sailors’ Society responds to stowaway incident off UK coast 

Attacks on ships can be “utterly terrifying” for the seafarers involved, Sailors’ Society CEO Sara Baade has said, following an incident off the Isle of Wight this weekend during which stowaways reportedly became violent towards an oil tanker crew.

The 22 crew on the Nave Andromeda withdrew to the citadel and radioed for help on Sunday morning after seven stowaways who had illegally boarded in Lagos, Nigeria, became hostile towards them, according to news reports.

The UK’s Special Boat Service ended the stand-off 10 hours later, dropping onto the vessel by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters under cover of darkness.

Sailors’ Society’s CEO Sara Baade said: “It’s utterly terrifying to be faced with a gang of men threatening violence, especially when you’re miles out to sea. Unfortunately, seafarers are extremely vulnerable to attacks from pirates or desperate stowaways when they’re just trying to do their job – in fact, it’s such a huge problem we’ve had to specially train our support staff in trauma recovery. 

“Situations like this can easily get out of hand leading to injury or worse, so it’s great news for the crew that the UK authorities stepped in so quickly to keep them safe. We’re on standby at our Southampton seafarer centre to give them any support they need.”  

Sailors’ Society set up its Crisis Response Network in 2015. The global network of specially trained chaplains provides a 24-7 rapid response trauma care and counselling service for survivors of piracy attacks, natural disasters and other crises at sea. 

The BBC quoted the tanker’s operator, Navios Tanker Management, as paying tribute to “the master of the Nave Andromeda for his exemplary response and calmness and to all the crew for their fortitude in a difficult situation.” 

About Sailors’ Society  

Sailors’ Society has been bringing people together for more than 200 years, transforming the lives of seafarers and their families at home, in port and at sea through the delivery of chaplaincy, education and the relief of poverty and distress.  

The charity works internationally to provide practical, emotional and spiritual welfare support to the world’s 1.6m seafarers, regardless of background or faith. Sailors’ Society chaplains and ship visitors have a presence in more than 90 global ports, with wider projects and services covering 30 countries.  

For more information on the charity’s work, please visit www.sailors-society.org