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Cruise Ship Crew Members Without the Right to a Union

Submitted by jozo on
11 years 11 months ago

Everywhere around the world, people who work for an employer have the right to unions which protect the rights of the workers and assist's them if assistance is needed in disputes between the employee and the employer. In a sense, unions work as protectors, as well as mediators, of the employees between the relationship employer and employee. Even the developing countries have some form of unions. In most countries, the employee becomes a member of the union for some kind of monthly fee which is just a little fraction of their pay. Should a dispute occur, the member of the union can contact the same and request help. Once the Union has an understanding of the issue which the employee needs assistance, the Union provides a representative who would mediate with the employer in any work related problems such as being reprimanded, fired, or even not payed properly.

It seems that the larger percentage of employees around the world are protected by such unions, except the crew members. After working long years on cruise ships and doing a little research, we have found that it is very hard to come across an international union which protects the rights of crew members who work on cruise ships. Most often, the unions which pertain to seafarers and the maritime industry are all bunched in one as the Unions of Transportation for each individual country. Although this is very beneficial for crew members who work for transportation companies which are based in a specific country and with the majority of the population from that country, it does little to nothing for the international crew aboard the cruise ships who visit more countries within one week. Few such unions are the MUA (Maritime Union of Australia), the MUNZ (Maritime Union of New Zealand), the NMU (National Maritime Union), the AMO (American Maritime Officers), and so forth.

Crew members, who are from all over the world, seem to be left to fend for themselves. These workers who spend most of their day working hard and most of their year apart from their families are great silent puppets for the cruise industry from the aspect that the laws of the countries in which the companies are registered most often allow it – after all, these people who work on the cruisers are most of the times not even from those countries, so why should those countries care – and based on the workers contractor status, the workers have very little to do when there is a problem with the employer. Most often crew members try to stay away from troubles, praying that they would not get sick or injured because they know that it would be very easy for the company to replace them and toss them aside. True, most of the times lawyers come very handy in a bad situation when it comes to working on ships and issues, but unions sometimes can prevent the costly process of a law suit, if there is even a base for one.

When researching international unions we came across one which may pertain to cruise crew members, the ITF Global (International Transportation Foundation). The ITF Global is made of 690 unions which represent over 4.5 million transport workers in 153 countries which are allied with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). ITF is located in London, but has offices in several countries around the world. More information's about this foundations can be found on their web site .

The cruise industry has been around for quite a long time now and for sure it will be around for many more years to come with the high demand of all inclusive and affordable vacations. Meanwhile, the cruise industry will continue to use the crew members like little silent puppets until every crew member who works on a cruise ship anywhere around the world come together and form one union which protects the interest of these crew members, and these crew members only. We, as former and current crew members, are convinced that taking $5-10/month out of the pay to ensure our rights and employment with dignity and respect to our human rights would not hurt the bank and the bottom line. If such union was in the works, maybe the 150 crew members from the P&O Arcadia would still have their breadwinner jobs

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