MLC Amendments Tackle Shipboard Harassment and Bullying

Unfortunately it has often been difficult for victims of bullying and harassment in the superyacht industry to know where to turn for help, particularly if the offending party is a senior figure such as a Captain, or when the culture on board is toxic and senior figures who should be protecting their vulnerable crew instead […]

Unfortunately it has often been difficult for victims of bullying and harassment in the superyacht industry to know where to turn for help, particularly if the offending party is a senior figure such as a Captain, or when the culture on board is toxic and senior figures who should be protecting their vulnerable crew instead turn a blind eye to vicious or hurtful crew dynamics.

Thankfully, there’s a crackdown on bullying and harassment taking place across the industry, supported by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which has recently voted in amendments to eliminate shipboard bullying and harassment, to be brought into force in January 2019.

What counts as bullying or harassment?

According to the MLC:

Harassment includes any inappropriate and unwelcome conduct which, whether intentionally or not, creates feelings of unease, humiliation, embarrassment or discomfort for the recipient.

Bullying is a particular form of harassment that includes hostile or vindictive behaviour, which can cause the recipient to feel threatened or intimidated.

The MLC Works to Eliminate Shipboard Bullying and Harassment

Because the MLC recognises the negative effect that bullying and harassment can have on seafarer health and wellbeing, they have voted to bring these serious issues under Regulation 4.3, which is the health and safety protection and accident protection code.

The MLC guidelines can be read in full here, and outline:

• What constitutes bullying and harassment
• The requirement for a yacht’s policy on bullying and harassment
• Reporting, complaints, and grievance procedures
• Measures to eliminate harassment and bullying, including awareness-raising

How does this affect the superyacht industry?

Now, harassment and bullying on board can be treated under the law as the serious violations of seafarer’s rights they really are, and this amendment by the MLC not only applies to the commercial shipping industry, but to the superyacht industry as well. As a leading crew recruitment agency, YPI CREW welcomes this amendment.

While some yachting figures bemoan the increasing influence of MLC regulation on operations on board, it richly benefits the yacht to eliminate bullying and harassment, given that these outbreaks of discord not only hurt the victim but the smooth and efficient running of the yacht itself. Bullying can lead to high turnover, poor teamwork, illness due to stress, and poor standards of work—all antithetical and destructive behaviours for a well-run yacht.

For any crew experiencing bullying and harassment on board, know that maritime law is on your side. You may want to consult your onboard policy for how to make a complaint, have a confidential discussion with the crew recruitment agency who placed you, and have a chat with the PYA to find out how you can fight back against bullying and harassment on board your yacht.