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21 October 2021 The on-line newspaper devoted to the world of transports 04:44 GMT+2

October 4, 2021

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ETF and ECSA study highlights challenges to establishing a European seafarers' data collection system

Existing sources are incomplete, inhomogeneous and partial

On 30 September, the European trade union of transport European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF) and the European Community Shipowners' Association Associations (ECSA) have concluded the Mapping of Maritime project Professionals (MapMar) which lasted 32 months and had the goal of evaluating how to obtain more data accurate and comparable and more standardized information on the European labour force in the maritime transport sector, given the current insufficient amount of reliable and homogeneous data on the number of persons available for employment in the maritime work of the European Union. In particular, the purpose of the project, which was funded by the EU, was to examine how to improve the way they are collected data on the employment of seafarers and to offer concrete proposals on how to create a proper data collection system.

The study identified and analyzed 93 data sources in 30 countries that can be divided into three main types: systems that contain details on the certification of seafarers; systems more general aimed at collecting employment data in a series of sectors; social security systems. From the exam deepened of these sources has emerged a mixed panorama and complex. The analysis showed that within each of the three types of data sources there is a wide range in terms of public accessibility, coverage, detail and specificity. Each of the three types of sources is also also limited, to a greater or lesser extent, in relation to what can contribute to a clear and accurate description of the workforce in the maritime sector. In fact, in most cases, systems collecting data on seafarers cannot reveal whether a seafarer is active or not. In addition, these Sources rarely include specific data on seafarers. Finally, the specific social security systems for seafarers they often have relevant data, but these are systems that they are not universal in all EU states, they collect data particularly sensitive and may not cover all seafarers of the nation.

The project therefore showed that none of the sources of data collecting information on seafarers has as its function main elaboration of a detailed mapping of the force work in the maritime field and data are often collected, classified, stored, adapted and controlled in such a way as to make it difficult to compare sources, between groups of seafarers or between nations as it is difficult or impossible to comparison of data from a range of different sources.

If the ETF and ECSA study notes that this is the base from which to define protocols for the development of a robust and reliable European data collection system, however highlights that the strategic planning and development of policies require valid data that is comparable and relative to the nations that at the time. Also, given the rapid evolution of changes in the various sectors including that maritime, it is particularly important that these data are as up-to-date as possible.

According to ETF and ECSA, data related to the certifications of seafarers should be the basis of any maritime labour force survey at European level and, in addition, a coherent set of data on seafarers rendered publicly available from all administrations would allow comparisons over time that are currently not possible.

Noting that, however, also a set of data collected on these bases would still have a limitation, that is, it would include all those who have certificates in force regardless of the whether seafarers are working or not, the study suggests two possible approaches to cope with this limitation: first where an adjustment could be made in a consistent manner, transparent and reliable to take into account the estimated number of this type of seafarers within the data set collected by each administration, adjustment that should be updated regularly to ensure that it continues to reflect the current situation; secondly, the data of the certificates may be attached to those in the databases tax or social security in order to provide an updated indication and accurate as to whether seafarers are working at sea or less.

Commenting on the results of the study, Estelle Brentnall, responsible for the maritime sector of the ETF, noted that "now we have a clearer picture of the data situation of seafarers and this - he underlined - offers us an excellent opportunities to contribute significantly to the construction of a large-scale data collection system at the level European in the maritime sector. From now on our municipality the objective of ETFs and ECSAs will be to address all our efforts to find the best way to submit these results to EU policymakers'.

"We are convinced - commented Rosella Marasco, Director of Social and Legal Affairs of ECSA - what accurate data, reliable and standardized of the professionals of the sea are essential for the development of appropriate policy responses to challenges facing the shipping industry. Together with the our ETF social partner - Marasco agreed - we do not see the time to establish a constructive dialogue with those responsible EU politicians for the benefit of the maritime community'.

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