We all know that there are still companies out there that exploit cadets as cheap labors on board. Since profit generation is much more important to some than humanitarian concerns, paying for a 1000 USD monthly wage for the service of an ordinary seaman is not economically viable than hiring a “cadet” for a 300 USD monthly allowance. Rationally right? Yes, but morally wrong. Cadets are not put on board to do the work of an OS, AB or oiler at a discounted price. Cadets are being put on board in able to be trained to be a future merchant marine officer.
As our ship called unto the port of Baltimore, USA, we were under inspection by the International Transport Workers’ Federation and all of our deficiencies were about the management officers mishandling the training of our cadets. The following are the specific points pertaining to the said deficiency:
- Cadets gangway duties and other watch duties should be only between 0800H- 1600H.
Cadets working hours should be arranged in such a way that they are in the safe working hours period particularly 0800H-1700H. Gangway duties and watch duties are not exceptions. The primary purpose of this provision is to put the cadet away from danger. There are companies which assign cadets in the 0400H-0800H/1600H-2000H watch since they have put bosun in the daywork schedule. This is a big NO NO! Bosun should be put in a watch which entails more risk since they are more experience and knowledgeable than a newbie cadet.
2. Cadets should not spent the whole day doing day work especially for deck cadets.
Engine cadets are not very affected by this matter since all hands are involved when it comes to work of engineer officers. Therefore, it is not difficult for engine cadets to acquire hands on experience and knowledge on the jobs and responsibilities of engineers. However it is a different story for deck cadets since daywork jobs assigned to OS and AB with the supervision of bosun are being done on deck while navigational officers are stationed in the bridge. Therefore ITF suggest that if management officers want to involve deck cadets in daywork jobs, it can be do so given that the other half of the day or 4 hours will be sent as watch on bridge. The primary purpose of this is not to compromise the training of cadets to become officers because they are not just trained to be ratings in the future.
3. Cadets are not allowed to have overtime work.
Cadets in legal definition is not an employee but a trainee. Cadets are not there for work but on shipboard education and training. Therefore cadets are not allowed to do overtime work because they don’t have overtime pay except the safety of the ship and the life of others are at stake. Saturdays and Sundays are considered rest days for cadets including official holidays as stipulated on the contract. Normal working hours is Monday to Friday from 0800H-1700H with one hour rest allocated for lunch.
4. The main priority of the cadet as well as the training officers is to accomplish the TRB.
TRB (Training Record Book) serves as the guide of training officers designated on board as well as the cadets themselves on the tasks and competences that they need to acquire during their stay on board. ITF reiterates that the job is not the main agenda of cadets but rather the knowledge, skills and competence that are required by the STCW to become a certified Officer-In-Charge of Navigational/Engine Watch. Not Officers-In-Charge of Tiktik Kalawang, not Officers-In-Charge of Wash Paint but OFFICERS-IN-CHARGE OF NAVIGATIONAL/ ENGINE WATCH.
Hope this insight will help change the perspective especially of those senior officers and training officers with the management of cadets on board especially in full crew vessels. They should prioritize guiding these future merchant marine officers acquire the competencies needed to become world class officers. Molding them to be the best they can be is the most impactful legacy that you can leave behind. As the ITF Inspector said, “Cadets are the future and the living legacies that you will make, they are not cheap labor to be exploited”. Kudos!