Seafarers worldwide could be spending almost a quarter of their monthly salary staying connected with friends and family, an industry report has revealed.
Futurenautics released its Crew Connectivity 2018 Survey Report during an event at its Shard-based offices in London on 27 March. The study shows seafarers worldwide are spending, on average, between US$89.46 (seafarers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and US$132.13 (south central Asia) on communication whilst at sea.
As of 1 January 2016, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) states that the basic monthly wage for an AB was US$614.
It means that south central Asian seafarers earning the average would be spending around 22% of their salary on staying connected with people ashore whilst at sea. This figure then rises to around 37% when including time spent ashore or in coastal waters.
Speaking during the event, Futurenautics chief executive Roger Adamson acknowledged that the amount some seafarers would be paying was a great deal higher than for people based ashore full-time.
'I think the ITF minimum wage for an able-bodied seafarer is around US$600 - $700 a month,’ explained Mr Adamson. ‘This means that this [the expenditure of seafarers on connectivity] is around 10% to 14%, or even more, of their disposable income a month.
'I don’t know how that compares to people ashore,’ he continued. ‘People ashore pay for their phone and use of the internet but I’d guess that that wasn’t in the region of US$180.'
The report highlights improvements in connectivity for seafarers but suggests that many still struggle to get adequate or cost-effective connections.
Nautilus International believes that all seafarers should be able to gain access to an ‘at home’ service at sea and that access to ship-to-shore telephone communications, email and internet facilities should be available to seafarers, with any charges for the use of these services being moderate and reasonable.
This latest crew connectivity survey mirrors many of the findings of our Crew Communications campaign - more seafarers are able to get online, but there are still large gaps in provision and too many seafarers are paying too much to keep in contact with their families. Head of strategy Debbie Cavaldoro
'We ultimately want to see "at home" levels of connectivity for our members and seafarers everywhere,' Ms Cavaldoro continued. 'That means free wi-fi onboard ships and in ports. With good policies covering usage and cyber security training, there is no reason why seafarers shouldn't be able to use the internet off duty in the same way those in shore-based occupations do.'
Back in 2015, the Union ran its own Crew Connectivity survey and produced a White Paper on its findings. Since then it has also set up a strategic campaign to address the issue.
The Nautilus survey found that 88% of members worked onboard ships with internet access, but only 57% could use it for personal emails and only 34% could use social media.