The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the trade association for shipowners and operators, which represents over 80% of the world merchant fleet, launches a set of ‘Industry principles for establishing effective measures to combat and eliminate harassment and bullying in the maritime sector.

The principles have been published against the backdrop of a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), alongside Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and Gallup, on experiences of violence and harassment at work.

The first of its kind global survey and analysis benefitted from insights of 74,364 respondents in employment across a range of sectors in 121 countries and territories.

It found that one in five people, almost 23%, in employment have experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological or sexual.

ICS Director of Employment Affairs, Helio Vicente, noted that although the data from the global ILO-LRF-Gallup report does not cover cases on board ships, the figures do point to a need for all industries and sectors to ensure that they do the utmost to prevent harassment and bullying.

“The maritime sector is no exception and must continue to take the issue very seriously. This includes having suitable policies and complementary measures in place to address it. The impact of violence and harassment, when experienced by seafarers on board is significant, since a ship is often a seafarer’s home for many months,” he said.

ICS has submitted the industry principles to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ahead of a joint meeting between the two UN bodies, alongside governments, shipowners and unions, convened to address this issue in the maritime sector.

ICS’s policy paper outlines thirteen principles designed to effectively combat harassment and bullying, including the need for companies to clearly define and communicate what constitutes ‘harassment and bullying’ and to establish clear complaints management procedures that cover the shoreside and all shipboard departments (deck, engine and shipboard hotels, in the case of cruise ships).

ICS also emphasizes that company policies alone are not enough to address the issue. Collaboration between governments, shipowners, and seafarers’ representatives is crucial.