THE DARK SIDE OF THE CRUISING INDUSTRY
WHY MANY GOOD IDEA TO BUILD BETTER CRUISE COMPANIES ARE HARD TO DEVELOP AND THE INDUSTRY IS OPEN ONLY FOR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS??
As a business model, the cruise industry has been phenomenal, Cruises are the future. But cutting corners and avoiding laws have had serious downsides.
Cruise ships are not subject to the requirement for federal permits covering sewer and waste disposal systems that are de rigueur for the resorts and hotels on land. As a result, all of those millions of passengers and crew members dining and defecating and showering on the oceans have left filthy discharges in their wake. On land, the cruise crowds streaming into foreign ports by the thousands have disfigured beaches and plazas, building resentment among many locals. Many ports have taken on the life of a strip mall. St. Mark’s Square in Venice is now a field of kiosks selling cheap imports and lines of tourists waiting to visit the basilica.
Having fun on a ship sailing in the middle of the ocean requires prosaic essentials recreating all of the systems hotels on land take for granted as well as the underpinnings of the ship: the navigation system, engines, power plant, water filtration and purification plants, sewage plants, photography plants, laundry and dry-cleaning facilities, kitchen galleys, a morgue, and storage lockers for the 100,000 pounds of food required to feed 3,000 people every day on a cruise. Also hidden from view are the below-sea-level accommodations for the 1,200 crew members.
These ships grew ever larger to incorporate all the services necessary to run a miniature town, becoming megaships with space for elaborate playthings like the skating rinks and climbing walls. And the passengers keep coming. It is no anomaly that cruises singularly turned a profit in the recent Great Recession of 2008. While Las Vegas and its casinos suffered and the airline industry went into the doldrums, the cruises were the financial rock star of the tourism industry, remaining the most profitable sector of tourism.One key is the very cheap wages cruise ships pay.
Today the majority of ship owners are based in wealthy maritime nations like the United States, Great Britain, Norway, Greece, and Japan, but their ships are registered and flagged in foreign countries with “open registries” — that essentially have no minimum wages, labor standards, corporate taxes, or environmental regulations and only a flimsy authority over the ships flying their flags. All these countries require is that ship lines pay a handsome registration fee.Cruise lines gain another enormous advantage by registering as a foreign corporation. The Internal Revenue Code exempts any income from airlines or ships from taxation as long as the foreign nation gives the same benefit to American corporations. Neither Liberia nor Panama nor any other open-registry country levies a corporate income tax.
The ITF has extended the campaign against flags of convenience (FOCs) to the cruise ship sector.
Most cruise vessels fly the flags of the FOC nations of Liberia, Panama or the Bahamas, with their owners taking full advantage of tax concessions and the lack of employment rights.The multinational nature of cruise ship crews means that the ITF is often the only recourse for crew members against the inevitable exploitation and abuse of a system based on the lowest wage rates. Seafarers can end up working 12-hour days, seven days a week for several months just to pay back crewing agents and to pay for flights to and from the ship.
The ITF has developed a cruise ship collective agreement for FOC vessels, covering conditions of employment, wages and benefits, and which guarantees crew a certain wage each month. For example, a pastry cook would get US$587 guaranteed total per month, and a room steward US$739. It also regulates death and disability benefit, sickness, working hours, and vacation time.Well-trained ITF Inspectors also visit cruise ships to offer trade union services to any crew members who request help, for example to those who have not been paid their wages, or have been unfairly dismissed. In some ports the ITF may recommend no action, in others crews may be told that more time is needed to prepare action. However, before seafarers do anything, they should first talk to the ITF.The ITF would, of course, like to see the demise of the FOC open registry system. Until that time however, it strives as an organisation, to protect the rights, and look after the interests of those individuals who either need to, or choose to work on board FOC vessels.The ITF seeks a cruise industry regulated by negotiated trade union agreements, based on respect for basic human rights and a fair wage. In the first instance the ITF’s strategy is to approach the companies that operate cruise ships and ask them to conclude ITF-acceptable agreements. If they refuse, their ships will be targeted for action by ITF port unions as well as by ITF-sponsored consumer boycott campaigns against unorganised vessels.The idea is seductive. Getting paid to travel the world on some of the most modern and beautiful ships. A real adventure, full of romance and glamour.
However, not surprisingly, the image is too good to be true. Below decks on virtually all cruise ships is a hidden world of long hours, low pay, insecurity and exploitation. Working days are commonly 10-13 hours long, seven days a week. Those who work continuously below deck, like in the galleys, rarely see the light of day, let alone the shimmering sea of the Caribbean.
Wages for those on a salary can be as low as US$400 a month, rising to US$700 a month for skilled cooks and fitters.
Many domestic staff are “tip earners”, paid about US$50 a month and expected to survive on the generosity of the passengers.
Some passengers abide by advice to tip up to US$3 a day for waiters and room stewards. But others spend their money on duty free shops, casinos and in the bar, while incomes are calculated on a ship with every berth filled.
Many seafarers, particulary coming from Asia and East Europe will have to pay a crewing agent a fee to join the ship. For the lowest paid, this will mean half of a typical eight month contract will be spent just to cover this expense.
Passenger complaints can mean staff transferred to less desirable stations (not fully occupied for example) or dismissal.Passengers required to pay minimum gratuities for service have been known to complain to avoid payment.Such factors as well as the cramped accommodation, the limited leisure facilities and the lack of pension and other social security arrangements make it less attractive to many of the potential seafarers, especially to those in developed countries.
Now let's focus on what is happening in the major of the companies. Anybody can tell if did ever seen a real difference in how cruise companies are working?
First the persons in the companies are always rotating in between, have we ever seen somebody with seafaring background been promoted in position where they can recruit the right people for the right position??? A billion dollar question......The faces are always the same both in recruiting and offices position and they are there just because they are families or friends member so no problem if in past they made damages they will be anyhow hired.
It will be a miracle if some of the really great project on the market could finally be supported and can make the real difference in this restricted market.