September 30, 2020, by aczjb1
The bond between Chinese seafarers and international shipping companies: Why does it matter?
A new report on Chinese seafarers has been published by HGI’s Dr Bin Wu and Dr Chris James Carter, alongside Mr Glory Gu, Regional Director of FLEET Management Limited in China, the world’s third largest ship management company based in Hong Kong. You can access the report and its 2010 predecessor below.
Today, around 90 percent of world trade is carried out by the international shipping, the first truly globalised industry in the world. For scholars who are interested in the debate about the globalisation and impact on the developing world, international shipping is a good case not only because there is a global governance framework for safety operation, skill development and labour standards. Equally important is a global seafaring labour market established for over one million seafarers from new seafarer supply countries like China, Philippines, Indonesia, Russia and Ukraine, who are working together onboarding foreign shipping company vessels. A dilemma facing this sector for two decades is how to attract and retain high quality and committed seafarers, and officers in particular, to extend their seafaring career and provide a long term service for shipping companies.
The necessity and complexity of the mutual commitment and long term cooperation between “global seafarers” and foreign shipping companies can be seen from Chinese seafarers, the largest group among seafarer suppliers. Currently, Chinese seafarers are not allowed to be employed by foreign employers directly. Instead, they have to sign contract with Chinese crewing agencies to work onboard foreign ships no matter how long they have serviced to the latter. This raises interesting questions: what are needs for, perceptions to and comments from Chinese seafarers to their relationship with foreign shipping companies they are servicing? How does it influence their seafaring careers and retention in this sector?
The questions above are addressed through a joint design and dissemination of a survey questionnaire with international shipping companies and Chinese crewing agencies in China, both which are involved the recruitment and management of Chinese seafarers. The most salient findings from this survey report are that almost 70 percent of respondents expressed feeling some form of a bond with the shipping companies, and furthermore, their attachment is closely related to their career satisfaction and retention. The report calls for a development of mutual trust, respect and shared value between global seafarers and international shipping companies for a safer, harmonious and sustainable future in this sector. The report ends by a number of policy recommendations to international shipping companies, Chinese crewing agencies and seafarers, maritime education and training institutes, Chinese government and international organisations.
“I am so pleased to publish this joint report”, said Dr Wu. “I hope it will be helpful for the international shipping industry to cope with the shortage of seafarers caused by current pandemic.”
HGI Director Simon Mosey said of the report:
“I am delighted to learn that my colleagues at the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Dr. Bin Wu (Senior Research Fellow) and Dr. Chris James Carter (Assistant Professor), have been working together with an industrial partner, Mr. Glory Gu, to complete a research report on Chinese seafarers: the largest group in the global seafaring labour market. As a University with a truly global outlook, this is a significant piece of work which demonstrates our collective attention and interests in the international shipping: the first globalised industry in the world, responsible for the carriage of around 90% of world trade.”
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