The real cost of the cruise industry
One of the main sources of jobs for people on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua is the cruise line industry. Many families are dependent on the remittances sent back by family members on the ships. But a recent BBC Radio Four programme exposed the super-exploitation that goes on in one of the fastest growest global industries.
One cruise line worker, described as from Central America, but with a Bluefields or Corn Island accent, revealed the reality of working conditions. “I had to get up and work, maybe 18 hours sometime, maybe sometime no time to sleep because just time to make money. Ship is money. You go on ship to make money. They have a timesheet, they are giving you from such a hour to such a hour to complete, like, 8 hours, so we can say we only work 8 hours which, that’s a lie. For instance, I go like from 5am and I will stop like 10am, then I will go back again like 2pm, and then I will stop working like, sometime, midnight. We are just supposed to report 8 hours.”
The wages are so low that the workers depend on tips: “That’s our salary. Our salary from the company is $50 a month. That’s nothing my friend, so if we don’t get tip, we don’t have any salary.” The crews work every single day for months at a time.
The President of the Cruise Lines International Association, Terry Dale, thinks everything is hunkydory. “Creating and fostering a positive work culture is critical to our success. These are highly sought after jobs and our staff will spend years working with us in the cruise industry because they find these jobs very rewarding and lucrative.” Perhaps that’s why some workers can pay up to $2,000 to an intermeidary to get a job.
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