Skip navigation.

GOODSHIP: What does quality employment at sea look like?

News, 22 April 2015

Do you like Fairtrade chocolate? Are you are into 'ethical fashion'? Perhaps you worry about the workers who assembled your laptop?

But what about the transport workers who bring you those goods? How much do you know about their wellbeing at work?

Probably very little, because when people talk about ethical supply chains they rarely mean the women and men who provide the links.

That is why Public World -- with the support of the ITF Seafarers Trust -- is looking to do something about it.

Starting with ships and ports, the aim of the our Goodship initiative is to promote good employment policies and practices in freight transport through voluntary corporate action.

This could be done through a code of conduct setting minimum labour and welfare standards, perhaps allied to a badge scheme; or through promotion of best labour and welfare practice in the form of an award; or perhaps through a combination of those approaches.

We know that many employers set relatively high standards and feel there is already enough regulation of their businesses. So we hope they will welcome an initiative to raise the bar by showing what a good job at sea looks like.

And we know too that there is no substitute for free and independent trade unionism and collective bargaining -- we have no intention of cutting across that.

The idea is to support effective social dialogue in the industry by shining a spotlight on the welfare and employment standards of seafarers and port workers.

We have a pretty good idea of what bad looks like -- demonstrated by Port State Control blacklists, crew abuses and complaints, high accident and casualty rates, and inspections revealing poor pay and conditions.

But what does good look like, and how can we make it normal -- and better?

That's what our scoping study is aiming to find out. It's being carried out by Tom Holmer, formerly head of the Seafarers Trust and a recent Masters graduate in development studies from London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

For more information, and to contribute to the study, please contact Tom via




Bookmark and Share