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Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:47 am
by JollyJack
barkerstyle wrote:a conspiracy between two cooperating players to circumvent Canadas labour laws. .....

There's nothing in either the Canada Labour Code nor Marine Occupational Safety and Health Regulations of which I'm aware which prevents foreign workers working in Canada. If you are aware of any, please let me know, I'll check it out and stand corrected. Seasonal workers from Central America, etc, without whom fruit and vegatables would rot on the fields, are permitted under the Immigration Act. As it stands right now, any position specified by a Safe Manning Document which requires a Certificate of Competency must be occupied by a Canadian CoC and only a Qualified Person, as defined by the Immigration Act, can hold a Canadian CoC. A "Qualified Person" is defined as a Canadian Citizen or a permanent resident.

As I have said, there is no evidence whatsoever of any collusion between competing shipowners. The common thread is simply greed.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:11 am
by barkerstyle
I feel this conversation has gone off the rails.

I too stand to be corrected on any of the following, these are only my assumptions and experiences, somewhat anecdotal:

Firstly, in order to work on a CANADIAN REGISTERED ship, you have to be a landed immigrant or have a temporary work visa or be a citizen. If any old person from overseas could easily work in Canada without having to jump through immigration hoops then we would ALL be out of a job. I have worked with many immigrants and they told me they went through a long and arduous process to get in the country then to another one to even write their CoC's. They also told me their home state CoC were not recognized by marine safety here. So, of course there are legal protections for Canadians when it comes to working in Canada. Exceptions have been made, as you said with regard to seasonal workers. I know of a Russian oil tanker that was allowed to load cargo in Canada and then discharge it in Canada. This is normally not allowed, and I should say this was an exceptional circumstance due to a lack of available tonnage at the time. There is also a foreign worker/seasonal worker program under the Government to allow industry to bring in foreign Temporary workers during labour shortages. If I owned a cargo ship, why would I register it in Canada and crew it with Canadians unless I had too?

I don't remember saying "collusion between competing shipowners". I feel there may be collusion between shipowners and the government, even other players in the biz. My thought, and it was only a thought, was that some companies would love the idea of being able to do business WITHIN CANADA and not hire expensive Canadian crews. This could be achieved by (1)allowing ships not registered in Canada to carry cargoes WITHIN Canada (not just come here, pick up or drop off then go back outside the country) or (2) allow foreign nationals easy access to work in the Canadian domestic shipping industry (i.e. bending the rules, allowing their foreign CoC to be used on a Canadian registered ship, etc).

I am NOT talking about a Canadian shipowner registering their vessels overseas then hiring foreign cheap crews to work in overseas markets. This is old news and has been going on for years. I am talking about here in Canada. Why do Canadian registered ships have Canadian crews? for PR? no, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TOO. If they figured out a way around this requirement don't you think they would lay us all off? I sure think they would. In order to achieve something like this, this theoretical shipowner would have to have the ear of someone(s) high up in Transport Canada or Immigration.

You mentioned you don't see an atom of this but I can tell you that I have. I can't really go into details on such a public forum however I did not invent this idea. I'm not that original :P. And I wholeheartedly agree with you that it is about the greed. The greed aspect is the motivating factor to drive out expensive Canadians from their own shipping industry (again, I'm not talking about foreign fleets owned by Canadian shipowners).

So to sum up my original thought: based on my experience in the business, I think that some elements of the marine industry in Canada have made life at sea so intolerable for some people that there is a crew shortage for those companies. I think they do have a hard time finding seafarer's, but only because they choose to continue with an outdated business model. Lousy crew changes, average money, lousy benefits, etc. They have effectively driven the talent out of the labour pool with such conditions. Its a self made shortage. And I surmise, somewhat on purpose. When Husky and the oil and gas industry (which have the best benefits, crew changes, and salary) can't find crews, THEN I'll buy into a REAL labour shortage.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:14 am
by The Dieselduck
Sorry to butt into the groove of the conversation there, Barkerstyle, I will put in my two cents shortly. But I ran into another article, this one talking about Norway's crew challenges.

- martin

Will Skill Shortages Affect Norway's North Sea Growth?
Friday, August 31, 2012

A poll of delegates at the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference has revealed concerns that a shortage of skilled professionals could prevent Norway from taking advantage of large oil reserves recently discovered in the North Sea.

68% of participants said they felt skills shortages would result in the country struggling to realise the potential of its recent Aldous and Avaldsnes discoveries (recently named the Johan Sverdrup field), while only 32% of participants felt that there were enough professionals available to develop these reserves.

The Johan Sverdrup field marks one of the largest ever discoveries in the North Sea and could help reverse declining oil production in the region.

The Industry Snapshot Poll was conducted on the second day of the ONS conference in Stavanger, by global independent technical advisor, GL Noble Denton. Senior professionals from across the industry also took part in the poll online.

Tore Lea, GL Noble Denton’s Managing Director for Norway, said: “The growing shortage of skilled oil and gas professionals in not unique to Norway – it is endemic across the world.

“The result of this poll indicates that this issue is far from being resolved, and could become a major barrier to Norway reversing a decline in oil production through the development of some of the North Sea’s most significant finds on time and on budget.

“As the global skills shortage becomes more acute, industry leaders are facing increasing difficulties in filling key roles from an ever-shrinking pool of qualified candidates. But there is also concern among some oil and gas professionals that fast-tracking the development of young engineers could, in the long term, prove damaging to the industry.”

This is the second of three Industry Snapshot Polls being conducted by GL Noble Denton this week. Delegates were initially asked whether Arctic exploration could help reverse the decline in Norway’s oil production by 2030. Attendees will also be asked whether they support the Norwegian and UK governments’ opposition to a single set of European safety regulations.

The results of the polls will be available from:

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:52 am
by The Dieselduck
Skill shortages drive claims rise - 03/09/2012

A study by the Swedish Club, produced as a reaction to a 60% increase in hull and machinery claims over a three year period, has pointed to skill shortages as one of the principal reasons for this rise. A substantial rise in the cost of individual claims, and an increased frequency of claims since 2008, led to the club’s analysis, which points to a number of common causes. None of these might be considered new or particularly surprising, with a lack of knowledge, the failure to follow procedures and inadequate resource management being three of the key issues identified.

The club’s findings mesh with that of analyses by accident investigators and others, suggesting that there is a growing shortage of experienced seafarers in a global fleet that continues to increase. Others have pointed to the increased intensity of marine operations and the Swedish Club certainly identifies excessive speed as a recurring issue, noting that situational awareness would often have been enhanced if the ship or operation had been slowed to a more reasonable speed.

The “human interface” between the operator and increasingly complicated equipment has also registered as a problem, with over-confidence of ships’ officers who believe (erroneously) that they fully understand their equipment being seen as a cause of accidents. New equipment and procedures such as the major practical changes being implemented with the arrival of ECDIS and electronic charts has also been problematical. Groundings and collisions have been caused because of a lack of knowledge about what officers were seeing as they monitored equipment. The importance of relevant and adequate training is emphasised.

The club also points to the need for a universally acceptable “near miss” reporting system, noting that its absence does not encourage such reporting. Because of this “missing link”, any trend cannot not be properly identified before accidents actually happen. Best practice, in this respect, needed to be shared more widely.

Failure to follow procedures, suggests the club, is undoubtedly a leading cause of accidents, and it points to the lack of a “safety culture” where such accidents tend to occur. The widespread use of multinational manning, it points out, reinforces the need for this cultural shift.

Other studies, not least the BIMCO/ISF manpower updates, have forecast this skills shortage, pointing out in their several editions the ageing of the seafaring population, the disappearance of the very experienced OECD officers as they reach retirement age and the need to address the “experience gap” their retirement is causing.

While it may accelerate promotion of younger officers, the fact of their lack of experience has also been recognized by the best operators, which have in place programmes to “upskill” younger officers before they are promoted. When it is merely assumed that inexperienced officers will learn quickly once they are in post, there is a risk (borne out by studies like that of the Swedish Club) that this assumption will turn out to be unfounded, and the officer will be unable to react properly in the event of a serious, or non-routine, problem and will “learn the hard way!”

Source: BIMCO

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:48 pm
by JollyJack
barkerstyle wrote:
Firstly, in order to work on a CANADIAN REGISTERED ship, you have to be a landed immigrant or have a temporary work visa or be a citizen.

Ummmmmm...actually, no, you don't. You need to be a Canadian citizen or permanent Resident (used to be called "landed immigrant") to be issued a Canadian Certificate of Competence. The Marine Personnel Regulations, part 2, "Minimum Complement", specifies who needs a CoC on board and these positions are listed in the Safe Manning Document. Other persons requiring Certificates are those listed on the Muster List as "Emergency Party" as required in the Boat and Fire Drill regs and the Fire Fighting Regs. Any crew member who does not require a Certificate of Competency and who is not included in an emergency party, can be any nationalty whatever. Electricians come to mind, (there is no Electrician's CoC....yet), as do stewards, extra deck hands, painting crew, riding crew for repairs, etc, etc. Of course, the MSG and the SIU might have something to say about that......

Work visas don't cut it to work as ship's crew in a position requiring a CoC. Vessels have been successfully prosecuted and fined for sailing short-handed, even with enough Brit tickets on board to man the QEII. None of them were Canadian, though they all had work visas, and the shipping Co. was fined. A work visa is NOT a Certificate of Competency.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:40 am
by JK
Big deal, they got fined. I am sure it is easier for a company to pony up the payment then to deal with the crewing/certification issue. If there is no long term determent then it is all relative.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:14 am
by JollyJack
Cost of doing business I guess

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 9:29 am
by The Dieselduck
So to sum up my original thought: based on my experience in the business, I think that some elements of the marine industry in Canada have made life at sea so intolerable for some people that there is a crew shortage for those companies. I think they do have a hard time finding seafarer's, but only because they choose to continue with an outdated business model. Lousy crew changes, average money, lousy benefits, etc. They have effectively driven the talent out of the labour pool with such conditions. Its a self made shortage. And I surmise, somewhat on purpose. When Husky and the oil and gas industry (which have the best benefits, crew changes, and salary) can't find crews, THEN I'll buy into a REAL labour shortage.

True dat...

Unfortunately, this creates immediate needs at sea, the most obvious problem, due to regulations, unfortunately I don't see too many people considering the overall impacts to industry. Which to me is pretty self evident in the situation at hand. Experienced seafarer will now be sailing - because its most important to keep the ship moving - instead of making proper strategic decision ashore, leaving these decision to people, 'good with numbers' but ultimately unfamiliar with ship requirements, therefore exacerbating the situation further. By the time Chevron is short of seagoing people, the canary's will have been dead a long time ago. Personally i believe the canaries have been dead for a long time, but still people are trying to fit the 'same ol model' into current realities which don't work. Time to get away from using coal on ships, if you get my drift....

By the way that Russian tanker experience, is not that isolated, we just had Swiss flag tanker take our ship's work a couple months back - between cdn ports - milk run from quebec to montreal - for an entire month! So I think this is a preview of the "norm" that's coming soon. The most worrying part is that I expressed my opinions as far as I could on this worrying issue. The surprise to me - how little response I received.

Perhaps it was because I am not a good communicator, quite possible, but I should still be able to hear from the 'plank walkers' - alas, I only got a handful "sorry to hear" messages from friends. Not a single union commented; regulators, washed their hands like Pontius Pilate. My shipmates did not comment on the overall situation. All of which I find very worrisome as a member of the maritime industry in Canada.

The discussion brought up a good point, you don't need to be a cdn to fill a rating position. Interesting topic. I can certainly see this as a opportunity to import foreign labor cheaply. I am sure this will come sooner than later. But ultimately I fail to see any long term planning by gov, companies or labor groups. Where are you going to get the next bunch of officers? more importantly, where are you going to get your experienced staff to make important decision on the future of your shipping company, managing last amounts of capital involved? The 'slave onboard' now, will they be able to migrate easily into 'western office culture'?

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:54 pm
by JollyJack
I think you misread the requirement for Ratings. Watchkeeping ratings are specified in Part 2 of the Marine Personnel Regulations as part of the deck watch and as part of the Engineering watch. (MPR 213 and 223) The Certification they require is specified in MPR 216 and 224(1)(b). (That said, deck ratings may be reduced and engine ratings eliminated under certain conditions.)

For a crew of 10 or more, a cook is mandated and the cook's Certificate is specified in MPR 227. (which is why shipowners like to keep crew numbers less than 9) All these Certificates of Competency are Canadian and only qualified persons as defined in the Immigration and Citizenship Act may hold them. (Citizens or PRs) Certification of emergency parties are also specified in MPRs. 205(5), 205(6) and 205(7), 208, 209, 210

However in Division 8, we find this:

269. (1) No person shall employ as a seafarer a person to whom this Division applies unless the person produces a medical certificate issued by the Minister under section 278 or a provisional medical certificate issued under section 275.

(2) The documents referred to in subsection (1) shall attest to the seafarer’s ability to

(a) perform the duties for which they are to be employed; and

(b) complete the voyages to be engaged on by the vessel on board which they are to be employed.

(3) No person to whom this Division applies shall accept employment as a seafarer unless they hold a document referred to in subsection (1) that applies to their situation and that attests to the seafarer possessing the abilities referred to in subsection (2).

The "person to whom this Division applies" is kinda hazy, there's no clear definition anywhere. For example, if a ship carries extra daywork deckhands as "painters" or Stewards who have no emergency duties, or Electricians, are they "seafarers"? If they are not, does the Divsion apply and do they need Seafarer's Medicals? They don't need a CoC and it certainly applies to anyone who holds a Certificate of Competence. (although certain CoCs are listed as exempted (SVMO for example) and certain parts don't apply to people who meet given criteria, eg hearing and vision requirements for old farts like me.)

Here is a link to the Marine Personnel Regulations. Part 2, Divisions 1 to 8 (section 200 on) deals with crewing issues. ... index.html

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:49 am
by The Dieselduck
Thanks for the clarification. A thin line indeed.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Sat Sep 08, 2012 7:32 am
by JollyJack
Of course, this can all change in the near future, the MPRs are being changed to reflect the Manilla amendments to STCW. eg. the Electrician's Certificate is to be reinstated.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:17 pm
by JollyJack
As an addendum, while digging around in Ship Safety Bulletins, I came across 04/2011, which says that passenger safety management endorsements don't need a Medical now. ... 04-eng.htm

This clarifies the position of crew aboard passenger vessels, ferries, for example, who do not need a CoC but have emergency duties concerning mustering and disembarking passengers in an emergency. They don't hold a Canadian Maritime Document, (which can only be held by a Canadian citizen or PR) so they don't need a Medical, so they don't need to be Canadian.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:24 am
by JK
Do they at least need passable english?

LOL, only here would you have crew (read stewards and stewardesses) who have emergency duties pertaining to the passengers and they don't require medicals.
So when they have the stress induced heart attack, who will take over their duties on a vessel that is minimal crewed as it is.

No wonder I don't much like ferries.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:10 pm
by JollyJack
Anyone who wants an STCW Certificate must pass an English language examination, under the Manilla Amendments. MPRs will be changed to include that. However, as it stands right now, no English is required as long as the ship has a common working language.

Re: Crew Shortage

Posted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:47 am
by JK
Better and better.
Hysterical punters and a staff member who speaks bearable english ONLY when he has time to translate in his head.

OK, I am exagerating, but still......

Now that I think about it, we should talk about slides and just how safe they are!