ICS Fights Harassment in Maritime Sector

Person with a bullying sign on their back saying 'kick me'
Updated Published

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents the interests of over 80% of the global shipping community, has recently unveiled a comprehensive framework aimed at eradicating harassment and bullying within the maritime industry.

This initiative was catalyzed by findings from a collaborative study conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF), and Gallup. This research highlighted that approximately 23% of workers globally have faced harassment or violence in the workplace. The study drew on the experiences of 74,364 individuals across various sectors from 121 countries and territories.

Addressing the urgency of these findings, ICS's Director of Employment Affairs, Helio Vicente, remarked on the absence of maritime-specific data in the survey but stressed the universal need to tackle harassment and bullying. He further said, “The impact of violence and harassment, when experienced by seafarers on board is significant, since a ship is often a seafarer’s home for many months.”

The set of principles devised by the ICS has been forwarded to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for further deliberation. These bodies, along with representatives from government, the shipping industry, and labor unions, are expected to discuss these guidelines in an upcoming joint meeting.

Outlined in a policy paper by the ICS, the thirteen principles propose a clear definition and communication strategy for what constitutes 'harassment and bullying' and recommend the establishment of transparent procedures for handling complaints.

The ICS paper further advocates that the responsibility for combating harassment and bullying extends beyond company policy, requiring a concerted effort from governments, shipowners, and the representatives of seafarers.

Tim Springett, who chairs the ICS Labour Affairs Committee, emphasized the collective responsibility in addressing this issue. He said, “While shipowners are responsible for implementing shipboard policies and complementary measures to eliminate harassment and bullying from ships, national governments and seafarers’ unions also have important roles to play.” He further said, “Unions can raise awareness and set expectations for their members, including appropriate deterrents, while all States should review their national civil and criminal codes to verify consistency with requirements of ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention and Violence and Harassment Convention, both of which apply to the maritime sector.”