Globalisation has transformed the seafarer labour market. As shipping companies have flagged vessels out to open registers, they have shifted from recruiting seafarers on a local hire, frequently permanent, basis to employing seafarers from developing countries on temporary contracts via third party crewing agencies. This has diminished opportunities for seafarers in developed countries and has also impacted on less visible groups—those transmigrants who formerly travelled to European hub ports to be hired directly by companies on European terms and conditions. Using the example of shipping, this paper presents an account of how changes in global labour markets impact differentially on groups and have the potential to cause particular problems for migrant workers.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
This began operations in 2002.
My thanks to Hans Schaefer for giving me an insight into the history of seafarers in Hamburg.
The term generally applied to ships changing their registration or ‘flag’.
However, see Sampson and Bloor (2007) for a discussion of some of the limitations on such standardization.
Most companies had 70–150 vessels; however, one was larger (350 ships), and two were relatively small (8 and 18 ships, respectively).
Thanks are due to Torsten Schroeder and Nelson Turgo for their respective assistance in data collection.
Ratings are the lowest-ranking seafarers, and the term generally covers able-bodied seafarers and ordinary seafarers as well as wipers and motormen (sometimes called oilers).
The company Jo tankers recently replaced 50 Dutch nationals with other nationalities (Tanker Operator 2009).
Alderton, T., Bloor, M., Kahveci, E., Lane, T., Sampson, H., Thomas, M., Winchester, N., Wu, B., & Zhao, M. (2004). The global seafarer: living and working conditions in a globalized industry, 224 pp. Geneva: ILO. ISBN 92-2-112713-3.
Anderson, B. (2010). Migration, immigration controls and the fashioning of precarious workers. Work, employment and Society, 24(2), 300–317.
Bergantino, A. S., & Marlow, P. B. (1997). An econometric analysis of the decision to flag out. Cardiff: SIRC.
Bernstein, D. (1986). The subcontracting of cleaning work in israel: a case of the casualisation of labour. Sociological Review, 34(3), 396–422.
BIMCO/ISF (2005) Manpower update 2005 BIMCO/ISF
Blinder, A. (2006). Offshoring: the next industrial revolution? Foreign Affairs, 85(2), 113–128.
Bloor, M., & Sampson, H. (2009). Regulatory enforcement of labour standards in an outsourcing industry: the case of the shipping industry. Work Employment and Society, 23(4), 711–726.
Brown, P., Lauder, H., & Ashton, D. (2010). The global auction: the broken promises of education jobs and incomes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burawoy, M., Blum, J., George, S., & Gille, Z. (Eds.). (2000). Global ethnography: forces connections, and imaginations in a postmodern world. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
De Ruyter, A., & Burgess, J. (2003). Growing labour insecurity in Australia and the UK in the midst of job growth: beware the Anglo Saxon model. European Journal of Industrial Relations, 9((2), 223–243.
Ellis, N., Sampson, H. (2008) The global labour market for seafarers working aboard merchant cargo ships 2003, SIRC Publication, June, ISBN: 1-900174-35-9
Fix, M., Papademetriou, D., Batalova, J., Terrazas, A., Lin, S., & Mittelstadt, M. (2009). Migration and the global recession (p. 127). Washington D.C: Migration Policy Institute.
Gekara, V. (2007) Increasing shipping skills in the UK: ‘Bursting’ the industry myth of diminishing interest’ SIRC Symposium Proceedings, Cardiff: SIRC and online at http://www.sirc.cf.ac.uk/pdf/Symposium%20Proceedings%202007.pdf. Accessed 7 July 2012.
Gregulis, I., & Vincent, S. (2009). Whose skill is it anyway? ‘Soft’ skills and polarization. Work, Employment and Society, 23(4), 597–615.
Hirst, P., & Thompson, G. (1999). Globalisation in question (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Polity.
ILO. (2001). The impact on seafarers’ living and working conditions of changes in the structure of the shipping industry. JMC/29/2001/13. Geneva: International Labour Office.
Jobs, C., & Butler, D. (2006). A case study in the globalization of jobs in Ireland. International Journal of Social Economics, 33(9–10), 666–676.
Johnson, J. H., Burthey, G. C., & Ghorm, K. (2008). Economic globalization and the future of black America. Journal of Black Studies, 38(6), 883–899.
Kahveci, E., & Nichols, T. (2006). The other car workers: work organisation and technology in the maritime car carrier industry. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Knight, B. (2010) ‘The much-hated Hartz IV’ DW-World De http://www.dwworld.de/dw/article/0,,5221558,00.html. Accessed August 1, 2010
MacKenzie, R., & Forde, C. (2009). The rhetoric of the ‘good worker’ versus the realities of employers’ use and the experiences of migrant workers. Work, Employment and Society, 23(1), 142–159.
Newton, S. (2004). The global economy, 1944–2000: the limits of ideology. London: Arnold.
Pearson, R., & Mitter, S. (1993). Employment and working conditions of low-skilled information-processing workers in less developed countries. International Labour Review, 132(1), 49.
Sampson, H. (2004). Romantic rhetoric revisionist reality: the effectiveness of regulation in maritime training. Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 56(2), 245–267.
Sampson, H., & Bloor, M. (2007). When Jack gets out the box: the problems of regulating a global industry. Sociology, 41(3), 551–569.
Sampson, H., Gekara, V. O., & Bloor, M. (2011). Water-tight or sinking? A consideration of the standards of the contemporary assessment practices underpinning seafarer licence examinations and their implications for employers. Maritime Policy & Management, 38(1), 81–92. doi:10.1080/03088839.2010.533713.
Sampson, H., & Schroeder, T. (2006). In the wake of the wave: globalization, networks, and the experiences of transmigrant seafarers in Northern Germany. Global Networks, 6(1), 61–80.
Selkou, E., & Roe, M. (2004). Globalisation, policy and shipping: Fordism, post-Fordism and the European maritime sector. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Smith, C. (2006). The double indeterminacy of labour power: labour effort and labour mobility. Work, Employment and Society, 20(2), 389–402.
Stevenson, D. (2011) ‘seafarers’ rights in piracy zones’ The Sea May/June: 6. http://www.missiontoseafarers.org/uploads/pdfs/media-centre/The-Sea-May-Jun-2011.pdf. Accessed April 12, 2012
Tanker operator (2009) http://www.tankeroperator.com/news/todisplaynews.asp?NewsID=1450. Accessed 2 September 2009.
Turner, T. (2010). The jobs immigrants do: issues of displacement and marginalisation in the Irish labour market. Work, Employment and Society, 24(2), 318–336.
UNCTAD (2008) Review of maritime transport 2008. http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/rmt2008_en.pdf. Accessed 7 July 2012.
Upadhya, C. (2009). Controlling offshore knowledge workers: power and agency in India's software outsourcing industry. New Technology, Work and Employment, 24(1), 2–18.
Winchester, N., Sampson, H., & Shelly, T. (2006). An analysis of crewing levels: findings from the SIRC global labour market study. SIRC: Cardiff University. ISBN: 1-900174-27-8.
Thanks are due to the Economic and Social Research Council which funded the research underpinning this paper (ESRC L214252036).
An early version of this paper was presented at the International Sociological Association conference in Gothenburg in 2010. My thanks for the feedback received at this meeting.
About this article
Cite this article
Sampson, H. Globalisation, Labour Market Transformation and Migrant Marginalisation: the Example of Transmigrant Seafarers in Germany. Int. Migration & Integration 14, 751–765 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-012-0266-0
- Labour markets