According to the latest Seafarers Happiness Index for Q4 2020, satisfaction over wages saw a small increase, perhaps driven in part by the relief that some seafarers feel at having a steady income in this difficult time.
A number of respondents made the point that they felt “lucky to have a job with any money coming in”. Those still able to earn are extremely relieved to be doing so.
There were also comparisons made to conditions in the home countries of many respondents, and again seafarers who were earning felt very much better off. In tough times the concept of “better off” can become somewhat skewed.
Whilst there were many positive responses, where crew felt wage levels were good and expressed their gratitude to be earning, there were many more negative views.
Once more there were responses from seafarers unable to work currently and who are beginning to feel intense financial pressures. “How can I carry on and provide for my family if I cannot go to sea?”, ran one response which captured a prevailing mood.
Away from the impact of COVID and back to the equation of effort and reward, there appeared to be some signs of tensions creeping in. This correlated with the issue of workload, with those who reported low results and dissatisfaction at the level or work demanded of them were, unsurprisingly, also less happy when it came to wage levels.
This seemed most keenly felt in the junior officer ranks. The impact of “less manpower and much wage reduction for junior officers” was voiced, and there was a sense that the job market was flooded with certain ranks, thereby driving opportunities and wage levels down.
As has been reported before, the rising costs of living and taxation in certain nations has had a major impact. Whilst it has become the norm to hear from countries such as India and the Philippines in this regard, there were Canadian seafarers voicing very similar concerns.
This is something to be monitored and assessed as to whether it is due to COVID related costs, or a widening of the wage gap between ship and shore.