Maritime employers and seafarers’ unions under the banner of International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have come together to develop guidelines to combat bullying and harassment on-board and at the shipyard.
The rules are listed in ‘Guidance on Eliminating Shipboard Harassment and Bullying’.
The guidelines have been launched prior to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Special Tripartite Committee on the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), to be held in February in Geneva where ICS and ITF will co-ordinate the representation of the social partners alongside governments.
According to the ILO MLC, the governmental bodies are required to ensure that their rules and regulations are attuned to the fundamental right of seafarers not to be discriminated against during their employment onboard the ship.
The new industry guidance takes steps on specifying what shipping companies, seafarers and seafarers’ organisations can do to help stop bullying and harassment from becoming a major issue.
In addition to offering advice on company policies on reporting, complaints and grievance procedures, the guidance specifies the responsibilities of seafarers and their employers on how to use the procedures appropriately and on being aware of any harassment or bullying, which also includes cases of cyber-bullying.
ICS secretary general, Peter Hinchliffe said: "Shipowners fully accept the need to develop policies and plans to eliminate harassment and bullying as a matter of good employment practice.
"Bullying has serious consequences for the physical and emotional health of seafarers and can also compromise teamwork with negative consequences for the safety of the ship and its crew.
"The fact that ICS and ITF have collaborated to produce this new guidance is therefore a very positive development."
ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: "Bullying and harassment in the workplace is unacceptable wherever they happen, but they have a particular horror at sea, where those affected may be isolated and alone, hundreds of miles from home.
"Until now there has been a lack of practical common sense guidelines and we’re delighted that we have been able to work side by side with the ICS to address this need."