To be an offshore worker in times of a global lockdown

By Administrator on Jan 19 in Useful Information.

Yes, so finally 2020 is gone after the slap in the face of the world economy that left us with eyes wide open. Unless you have been employed in the pharmaceutical sector It is very likely that you have been left with permanent marks on your pocket by the crisis.

The Corona crisis has done so much damages, that is very unlikely for someone to be able to list all of them. In this article, we are going to try to have at least a basic look at what was done with the offshore workers during that period.

In order to have a better look, we are going to separate them into three groups. The differences between the groups are the consequences that they faced during the world lockdowns.

And so, here is the group of the first offshore workers. They are the people who worked at the time of the lockdowns. You probably are going to say that at least they have been working. That’s true, they have been working, but at what price.

Some of them had to work extra even for months thanks to that there was no one to change them, because of the closed airports and canceled flights. They have been working no matter the fatigue or the stress and worries accompanying them every day, thanks to that they couldn’t be with their families during these uncertain times. You can be sure that all those factors were reasons for at least a thousand more accidents and dozens of deaths of persons, that were working no matter that they were not able to do their duties.
According to the “German Shipowners Association” during the first lockdown, there were more than two hundred thousand sailors(this are the numbers without the workers employed on the oil and gas platforms or the wind farms or any other offshore industry different from the shipping)which were unable to leave their workplaces.

The next group is completely opposite to the first one. As we said hundreds of thousands were unable to get home. So then you can imagine the same number of sailors which were staying at home during the lockdown.

Great, at least they were at home with their families. That would have been great unless that probably 90% of them weren’t employed by agencies. And probably you will ask, what is the problem to be employed through an agency.
The answer is simple: When you are employed directly with the company, not only that you get a better salary and other social benefits, but you get that salary every month. When you are working through a crewing agency, you get paid only for your time onboard.
So that means that most of those persons were staying at home with empty pockets.
Now imagine how would you feel, if you were a healthy strong person(head of a family), forced to stay at home without money to support your family.
Many of those workers will never go back to the offshore life. Not because they don’t love their jobs, but because, that the offshore sector is full of uncertainty.

Now let’s have a look at the last group of offshore workers during the lockdown.
Fortunately, the persons that are in this group are very few. No doubt this is the worst group that you can be part of. Why the worst? It’s going to be clear after you read the next lines.
Basically, this is the group that combines the bad sides of the other two without adding something good to them.

During the corona crisis, we were witnessing a lot of bankruptcies. The shipowners were no exception. Although that bankruptcy on land is a relatively simple thing(the company you have been working for is gone because of bankrupt, you pick up your stuff, go home, cry, drink a few beers and start looking for another job)offshore is away different than that. Unfortunately, there are cases in which the vessels and the crew on them are left to chance after the owner’s bankruptcy.

According to Paul Burt(regional director, Gulf and South Asia of Mission to Seafarers) “It is not uncommon for us to come across a ship where they have not been paid or had any relief for over a year or up to 18 months. More crews are being left to their own devices, not receiving salaries and their suffering tends to increase”. To be left on a ship for a year and a half without any supplies and close to a harbor, in which you can’t dock, because you can’t afford to pay the harbor taxes is something, that no one should experience in this century.

As you can see COVID-19 didn’t spare anyone, and the offshore workers are real examples of how a global lockdown can flip your life upside down for no time.


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