Inside the Issues

‘Sweatship’ conditions on many cruise ships

Cruise ship*



Excessively long hours, very low pay and management as abusive as anything that might be found in sweatshop factories are common on many cruise ships, says a report jointly published by the ITF and the British campaigning organisation War on Want.

The report highlights the dramatically different experiences of the 12 million passengers seeking their “dream holiday” and the crew. Serious abuses of human rights below decks are common.

Some cruise companies take an indemnity from the first month’s wages against the worker absconding. Such practices turn cruise ship workers into virtual bonded labour.

The report’s author, Celia Mather, says: “It was a shock to interview people such as an Indian crew member who works in the galley, peeling vegetables for 11 hours a day, six or seven days a week, and some receptionists and cabin stewards from Peru and Lithuania put under sexual pressure by their managers just to keep their job.”