Everyone should be able to work safely on board

A new survey highlights a range of serious challenges with bullying and harassment on board Danish-flagged ships.


Everyone, regardless of gender, nationality, or sexuality, should be able to work safely on board a Danish-flagged ship without fearing bullying or harassment.

This is emphasized by Danish Shipping after the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs published the report “Harassment and Bullying in the Merchant Navy.”

Even though more than half of the respondents in the survey say they have noticed a positive change in the working environment on board over the past year, the survey also shows that there are problems with bullying and harassment on Danish-flagged ships.

“There should be no doubt that we, at Danish Shipping, strongly condemn any form of harassment and bullying on board our ships. We will simply not tolerate this kind of behavior under any circumstances, and therefore, I am sorry to read the conclusions of the report,” says Anne W. Trolle, Director of Labor, Recruitment, and Education at Danish Shipping.

Therefore, Danish Shipping is pleased that the Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs has taken the initiative to convene the industry stakeholders and looks forward to discussing how efforts to prevent harassment and bullying can be strengthened.

Danish Shipping has also already agreed with the collective agreement parties to establish a joint working group.

“We are well aware from previous surveys that there are challenges on some of our ships. Therefore, we have worked hard to change the culture at sea and create inclusive environments for everyone. But the survey clearly shows that we have not yet reached our goal, so we continue undeterred and will continue to take a firm stand against such behavior,” says Anne W. Trolle.

During the collective agreement renewals in the spring, Danish Shipping ensured that it was written into all agreements that it is the parties’ shared responsibility to ensure “that their ship is free from harassment and abuse,” and that one can be fired for engaging in harassment or not contributing to stopping it.

“We will continue to insist that everyone should be able to work safely without the risk of being subjected to bullying or harassment. Therefore, we need to create a ‘speak-up’ culture where we bring these issues to light,” says Anne W. Trolle.

Long-term effort

As part of the effort to improve the working environment on board the ships, Danish Shipping recently asked the shipping companies with ships under the Danish flag what they are doing to prevent harassment and bullying*. The answers show that this is a task that has moved to the top of the agenda:

97% of the shipping companies today have a greater focus on bullying and sexual harassment in their company than five years ago, and 84% of the shipping companies have taken concrete measures to ensure harassment-free environments.

“When I speak with our top executives, it is clear that they are concerned about this challenge and do everything they can to address the problem. But even though a lot is happening in the shipping industry in this area, and there is much more focus on bullying and harassment than before, we must acknowledge that it takes time to address these problems,” says Anne W. Trolle.

FACTS – Shipping companies work to combat bullying and harassment.

  • 86% of the shipping companies have a written policy regarding sexual harassment
  • 80% have conducted surveys to determine if bullying and harassment have occurred in the workplace
  • 80% have ensured clear procedures for reporting harassment and bullying, and 80% have ensured that reports can be made anonymously.

*About the Danish Shipping survey: 30 shipping companies, which together employ 73% of seafarers on Danish-flagged ships, responded to the survey.

Paragraph inserted into all the collective agreements renewed in the spring of 2023:

“It is the shared objective of the parties that no seafarer, during or as a result of their service on board, is harassed or subjected to any form of harassment or offensive behavior. All parties bear a responsibility for and must contribute to ensuring that their ship is free from harassment and abuse. Failure to actively contribute to this can be subject to disciplinary sanctions, similar to harassment being practiced.”

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