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New ITF web tool helps seafarers steer clear of shady manning agents

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A new web tool from the International Transport Workers' Federation helps seafarers looking for jobs navigate through the maze of slippery manning agents and cunning scammers.

ITFShipBeSure.org launches today to give those looking for work on cruise or cargo ships the kind of insight they need to negotiate sound contracts and avoid the perils of shady manning agents.

India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines to start

It features a directory of manning agents that have been rated by the ITF as either green (good to go) or red (best avoided). The site initially covers four countries that are major crew suppliers but will be expanded to eventually include much of the world. The launch countries are India, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

'Every year, thousands of seafarers are scammed or defrauded,' said Steve Trowsdale, the ITF onspectorate coordinator. 'Our inspectors have long experience in identifying the illegal practices of dubious agents. We wanted to pass on that knowledge so seafarers can find good, reliable work.'

Trowsdale hopes the web tool will stamp out fake, rogue and non-compliant agents.

Links to employment pages of cruise ship operators

The site helps seafarers understand what good manning agents can do for them, and what bad agents may try. It details what they should expect in a contract and how they can make sure they’re getting a fair deal. It also includes links to the employment pages of cruise ship operators.

Guide to spot scams

'Scams to trick job-seekers out of money or to steal their documentation are proliferating,' Trowsdale said. 'ITFShipBeSure also includes a guide to spot these scams and a regularly updated section that highlights the scams we know about. The golden rule is: if a job looks too good to be true it almost certainly is.'

Some scams look highly professional and it's all too easy to fall into their trap. But ShipBeSure includes a Look Up section where seafarers can search on ships or find contact details for their nearest union representative or ITF inspector.

'Knowing as much as possible is the best way to protect yourself: about a ship you plan to work on, the recruitment process, and the terms and conditions,' Trowsdale said. 'That knowledge is what we aim to provide with ShipBeSure.'

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