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Riding Gangs

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The work of seafarers has been casualised through the increasing employment of ‘riding squads’: gangs of workers – not seafarers – brought on board as additional labour. 

Although originally specialist workers brought in as and when the need arose, riding gangs are increasingly used to do a wide range of work: repair and maintenance of electrical, mechanical, radio and navigational equipment; cleaning and painting; cargo handling; security; and mooring.

Why does casual working undermine seafarers?

The casual workers employed in riding squads are not covered by collective agreements on pay rates or conditions of work. They do not need to be declared medically fit to work on board, and they do not need to be trained in emergency procedures.

Now there is growing evidence that riding gangs are becoming attached to ships permanently, rather than short term, and are in fact carrying out seafarers' duties.

The employment of riding squad workers can undermine and undercut agreed pay rates and terms of work for seafarers. And although they are casual labourers, some states now count riding gang workers as part of the ship's crew for minimum safe crewing levels. The employment of unchecked and unregistered workers can also undermine the ship's security under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code. For more information on this, please see the link on the right of this page.

Do riding squad workers have rights?

Although riding gang workers are employed outside of collective agreements, ITF believes they need protection of their rights when they work on board.  

ITF guidelines on riding squads suggest that:

What is ITF policy on riding squads?

ITF policy on riding squads was adopted in 2005 and can be seen in detail suing the link on the right of this page. It condemns the practice of reducing the permanent crew on vessels by the extensive use of riding squads, and calls for:

Related documents:
ITF Policy on Riding Squads (74kb DOC)

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Contact Us | Cargo Handling by Seafarers | Dockers


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