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ICS launches guidance to tackle bullying and harassment

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The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has launched a set of free industry principles to help companies address bullying and harassment in the maritime industry.

‘Industry principles for establishing effective measures to combat and eliminate harassment and bullying in the maritime sector’ has been published by the shipowners’ association, which said it strongly encouraged all shipowners and operators to take them into account.

Drawing inspiration from complementary initiatives and company policies, ICS has create five high-level principles and eight detail principles to guide companies in creating their own policies for dealing with bullying and harassment.

The high-level principles are:

  • Be data driven (e.g., surveying employees on board and ashore).
  • Foster a culture of inclusion and diversity.
  • Support all cultural backgrounds, races, religions and faith.
  • Treat complaints of harassment or bullying with seriousness and treat those making complaints with respect and dignity, avoiding “victim blaming”.
  • Include a statement of strong leadership commitment to the elimination of harassment and bullying.

The eight detailed principles include defining bullying and harassment with examples, and ensuring sustained improvements in anti-harassment and bullying policies.

ICS said it had submitted the principles to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), ahead of a joint meeting alongside governments, shipowners and unions on February 27-29.

The release of the principles comes after a 2022 report by the ILO, Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF) and Gallup on experiences of violence and harassment at work found that 23% of those in employment had experienced violence and harassment at work, whether physical, psychological or sexual. The report was based on findings from a survey of 74,364 respondents in a range of employment sectors in 121 countries and territories.

“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,” said ICS director of employment affairs, Helio Vicente.

At the joint ILO/IMO Tripartite Working Group, ICS will consider a separate paper which emphasises the need for effective collaboration across governments, shipowners, and unions to effectively address the issue.

“Unions can raise awareness and set expectations for their members, including appropriate deterrents, while all States should review their national civil and criminal codes to verify consistency with requirements of ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention and Violence and Harassment Convention, both of which apply to the maritime sector,” said Tim Springett, chair of the ICS Labour Affairs Committee.

The principles can be downloaded from the ICS website.