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A Seaman's anguish: Spilling the beans
What would you feel when you were ousted by the shipping company you’re working for because you helped your co-worker to send your captain home? It is the right of every person to report the wrongdoings of his superior, especially if it is for the sake of the many in the workforce. The sailor felt sad when the manning company didn’t defended him just because he told the truth that made the shipping company recall its master and was reprimanded.
Why and how did it happened
The sailor was enjoying to surf the internet on his portable laptop computer in the summer of 2008 while on vacation in the Philippines. When suddenly came an e-mail from one of the ship of the Greek company (Tsakos Shipping & Trading S.A.) where the sailor was connected. It came from an AB (able-bodied seaman) who’s one of his friends asked for his help due the fact that they’ve already staged a two-day mutiny on board ship (M/T Opal Queen). Alarmed, the sailor immediately e-mailed the AB (Raymond Ibasco) and asked what happened on board the vessel.
The AB recounted the incident involving the Greek captain (Captain Nikolaos Kazantzoglou) and a Filipino AB who’s on duty at the ship’s bridge when the master became irate and physically hit the crew. The Filipino second officer intervened but he, too was pushed by the captain. The ship was scheduled to discharge its crude oil cargo at the port in Texas City (August 20-22, 2008) when an argument happened at the bridge that made the captain very angry.
During their toolbox meeting at the crew saloon, the junior officers and crew (mostly Filipinos) agreed to report the incident to the local representative of ITF (International Transport Workers Federation). They’ve already staged mutiny or not working for duty for two days.
The immediate action of the USCG (United States Coast Guard) personnel and the ITF was to investigate the master about the report they’d received. The Filipinos on board ship were asked for supporting information that the master was really abusive even in other ships he worked for. That’s how the sailor entered in the scene.
He sent an e-mail to the shipping manager (Captain George N. Sazaklis) in Greece and related what happened on board ship plus the newsletter he made while on board in one of the ship of the company. With the newsletter, the sailor supported the move of the Filipinos on board the ‘hot ship’ about the accused master. Little did the sailor know that his move will backfire on him; that he will not gain support from the manning company back in the Philippines.
In the span of one week, the sailor received a call from the crewing manager of the principal in Wallem Maritime Services, Inc. in Intramuros, Manila. With only the self-confidence and his belief for the saying that “The truth will set you free” to back him up, he immediately went to the office of the crewing manager (Erickson Pedrosa).
The sailor was supposed to board the controversial vessel as chief cook, but his endorsement was recalled by the crewing manager due to the circumstances he was into. Trying not get hurt the feelings of his crew or just playing safe, the crewing manager endorsed the sailor to another principal in the company. That’s the only thing he could help the sailor to let him work again in the said manning company.
The crewing manager also told the sailor that the shipping company nearly lost one of their charterers in the US, so the administrative staff decided to let him go.
When telling the truth, the sailor will always defend his friends if it’s for the good of every one, especially the crew; even it will cost him his job. He believed that honor and integrity are more important than money. If you are being berated in the workforce or unjustly treated, you can fight for your rights even if it cost your “bread and butter”.
The sailor will stand for the truth and tell the world that he did his best in fighting for the crew’s rights on board ship. There's no satisfying feeling like what you achieved in upholding the truth and what's right for your colleagues. After all, money is not everything. You can still look for another employee that believes in the equality between shipowners and workers.
Young Next Leaders
I hope the next generation of Greek officers will be more accommodating and tolerable to other races, especially the Filipinos. After all, it is the Filipinos who really take care of their ships, when it comes to its maintenance and safe operations.
The Next Generation Initiative is reconstructing the image of seafaring industry in Greece. In olden times, they were looked upon as models in navigation. They even drew and finished the first Mediterranean map that was used by ancient seafarers.
Toney Awards 2008 for The Seafarer c/o neunfuenf
The Associated Marine Officers' and Seaman's Union of The Philippines (AMOSUP) provides help to needy Filipino seafarers who suffered verbal or physical abuses from their superior officers.
More and more Filipino crew are now surfacing themselves to complain their high-ranked officers when the latter committed harassment to the ratings.
AMOSUP is being backed up by the ITF in order to punish abusive officers on board ship.
Organizing Globally -Fighting for our Rights c/o itfvideos
Abuse of seafarers
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