Hello happy hunters!
As we fully kick the season off, we see more and more green crew excitedly getting their first jobs. Celebratory beers down the pub, packing your bags and moving onboard, you’ve stepped up into the working world. This is what it’s all about. Salary to be paid, no more dock walking, no more day working, you now have a cabin and a boat, and you are part of a crew. No more tuna sandwiches every lunch and dinner, and no more crew houses. You have made it – you’re a ‘yachtie!’
Now for those that have managed to find a professionally run boat, or an MLC Compliant vessel, you will walk onboard, sign a contract, be taken through the terms and conditions of the S.E.A (Seafarers Employment Agreement) you are all set to go. Then there are the unlucky few. The ones who have been lulled into an idea that you have struck gold, but instead you have found an unprofessional, strung together boat. To these crew, our hearts go out. And the purpose of this article is to clear up any form of misunderstanding. This is not only to green crew, but to all crew.
In a perfect world, on an MLC compliant vessel, you will normally receive a draft of the contract before boarding. This allows you to read through all the fine print, seek advice from someone who knows contracts (family/lawyer/friend etc) and to be one hundred percent clear of what you are stepping onto. This will be issued by either the captain, or if the vessel is under a management company, then they will be able to set this up for you.
It normally includes a Uniform Order, Salary Agreement, Leave Agreement, Harassment Policy, Communication Policy, Confidentiality Agreement and a place for your own personal details including your Bank Account details. This is normally a standard document, that all boats have ready access to. Now since we don’t always live in a perfect world, every situation is not always ideal, and not all boats are MLC compliant, there can be some MINOR lenience with this. But do not be taken advantage of. We are seeing more and more green crew hopping onboard, and three or four weeks later, still no contract. This leaves you open to huge risk. Especially if you have flown to meet the vessel, and you’re now in a foreign country with no friends or support structure.
When I say minor lenience, there should be no reason that you are not issued a S.E.A within 3 days of boarding the vessel, unless there are some extreme situations that require a further delay. Unfortunately this is more the norm now and no longer the exception. Please guys and girls, do not let this happen to you, stand your ground, and know your rights. Everyone needs a contract of some sorts that both parties agree upon. Too many new crew members are too afraid to stand up and request hat they need regarding this Now I am not saying throw a fit and become unprofessional. Always maintain respect and discuss all matters in a professional manner!
On the Reality 123 Course we teach quite clearly to ask these sort of questions in the interview stage already. that way there are no surprises. We are also firm advocates of making sure the crew receive their contracts before they move onboard. It keeps it professional and transparent on both sides from the beginning. Understandably a S.E.A is NOT a legal requirement for non-MLC compliant boats, but ask yourself if you are prepared to work for a vessel who does not want to offer a contract that protects you and the vessel…? And yes, this goes for a seasonal position as well. We need to make sure that this industry standardises the practices of treating ALL crew with respect. And if everyone stands together and refuses to be walked over, then slowly it will change for the better.
Good luck to all candidates out there, hitting the docks hard. We are here to help in any way we can and would love to hear your stories. Feel free to join the Calibre Crew facebook page, or visit us at www.calibrecrew.com to find out more about the Reality 123 course.
By Greg Gibson – Calibre Crew