Camper and Nicholsons
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The MLC 2006 series continues…..who's complaining?

1st Jul 2014

It is normal to get caught up in the buzz of your shiny white 30 to 80 meter world and forget what might or might not be normal. So what exactly do you do if you are unhappy or if things aren’t going as you had hoped? In the eyes of MLC 2006, what exactly constitutes a complaint?

We hope that the 2014 season is off to a great start for everyone. Hopefully your favorite crew agent helped you land your dream job. Or maybe you dockwalked and networked your way onto the perfect boat and signed a sweet contract. Many times, especially if it is your first season, the reality of the job is a bit shocking compared to the glamour that the industry portrays from the outside. The yachting industry is one of extremely high standards and those of you who are lucky enough to call yourselves a part of it certainly know what hard work is all about. 

It is normal to get caught up in the buzz of your shiny white 30 to 80 meter world and forget what might or might not be normal. So what exactly do you do if you are unhappy or if things aren’t going as you had hoped? In the eyes of MLC 2006, what exactly constitutes a complaint?

We have heard crew complain about no flat screen TVs in their cabins, not having wine with crew meals, and no free shampoo. While it’s true that the yachting industry does often offer some pretty incredible perks, these types of benefits depend on the boat and the owner and of course the budget. They are not a given, and they are certainly not covered under the MLC 2006 legislation.

What we are talking about here are things such as your salary being paid late or not at all, harassment of any kind (verbal, physical, sexual) by an owner or fellow crew member, inappropriate working hours, or demands to do dangerous or illegal things…just to name a few.

In cases such as these, thanks to MLC, there are clear guidelines and procedures in place to take care of you and tell you exactly what to do. You should have received a copy of your yacht’s On Board Complaint Procedure, perhaps when you received your contract. It might also be posted in one of the common areas such as the crew mess. These guidelines will explain who you should talk to if you are having an issue and how it should be addressed and documented. There is a written form that should be filled out and signed but the basic gist of it is this:

In most cases, crew should attempt to solve problems at the lowest level possible. This means simply that unless there is a conflict of interest, you should work your way up the chain of command. Though it is within your rights to complain directly to the Captain or Management Company, usually it is best to talk first to your Head of Department.

We know this is delicate. A yacht is a small world and sometimes even the smallest personality conflicts can quickly get out of hand. Therefore it is also your right to have a mediator present when you voice your concerns. This is to protect against any sort of victimization or unfair retaliation against the person who is complaining. Quite often, there will be a specific person appointed within the crew, to act as an impartial witness or objective advice-giver. Hopefully solutions can be found on board, but if you feel that the problem has not been sufficiently addressed, you should move up the ladder, whether that is to the Captain, Management Company, or Shipowner.

All of this should be recorded and resolved within a reasonable amount of time. The hope is that by laying out a clear and simple reaction plan, problems will be addressed rapidly so that everyone can happily get back to work. We know it’s not always that simple, but try to be strong and keep the big picture in focus. If your cabin mate is a slob and snores all night, we encourage you to handle the problem between the two of you. But if you are working unpaid 20 hour days or are the victim of aggression or questionable behavior…you can feel safe and confident that there are procedures in place to help.

For more information, please contact Camper & Nicholsons' Crew Division here.

 

by Camper Nicholsons

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In most cases, crew should attempt to solve problems at the lowest level possible. This means simply that unless there is a conflict of interest, you should work your way up the chain of command.