Trouble on Board

Paul K. Chapman, Author ILR Press $32 (176p) ISBN 978-0-87546-180-9
The maritime industry's 1.2 million crew members are among the world's most vulnerable and exploited workers, argues Chapman in this lucid, powerful book. To cut costs some shippers operate under ``flags of convenience,'' under the jurisdiction of countries with minimal regulations, and hire crews from Third World countries at very low wages. A former port chaplain p. xiii and founder of the Center for Seafarers' Rights, Chapman records a litany of sad tales: a cargo ship crew living without heat or running water, cruise ship workers bunked 10 in a room, deceptive recruiting agencies, gross wage inequities. Seafarers enter ``a legal black hole,'' but geographical dispersion and cultural backgrounds that value loyaltyp. 82 hamper union organizing. There are decent companies, effective registration practices and gadfly unions, and Chapman proposes reforms (including permanent contracts and limits on overtime) that have been adopted by part of the industry. While Chapman finally suggests that seafarers must organize to right the imbalance of power, his book compels the conclusion pk that others--among them the church and consumers--must also step in to help. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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