Seafarers say pay does not keep up with workload

According to the Q4 2021 Seafarers Happiness Index, the question of wages saw a fall this quarter, and there was much mention of the perception that shipping’s financial gains were not being adequately shared amongst seafarers.

Responses included, “Salary is generally good – until you compare it relative to profits. My workload and stress have increased over the last four years, company profits increased yet my wages remain the same.” Another stated, “Wages/salary have not been increased at all. We are running the ships day and night 24×7 without any break. We deserve a salary increase.”

One respondent said, “For me what I earn is not enough for totally stressful work, but yes if I don’t like I should leave”. This was a sentiment echoed by many, with respondents stating that they did not feel the rewards for seafaring were sufficient and questioning their reasons for remaining in the profession.

There is also a growing sense that seafaring is being eroded in comparison to other positions ashore. 

“When I initially went to sea, senior officers were paid similarly to doctors, dentists and lawyers. However, over the last thirty years, seafarers have endured below-inflation pay increases and, in many years, pay freezes along with employing other nationalities who will work for less, driving down wages. After a full career at sea, I am looking at a very frugal retirement, and will likely have to work way beyond the age I originally planned to retire.” 

This captures what is a cold, hard financial reality for many seafarers, and again suggests there are likely to be challenges ahead.

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