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Built by Divers for Divers - Liveaboards in Asia and the Pacific
We are sorry that you have had a negative experience with the team at Worldwide Dive and Sail. We received several emails from you in regards to the incident on the S/Y Mandarin Siren and your concern over the safety of one of our crew members- Michel Clive, the last of which being 5th January 2012.
Our understanding, once you were assured of Michel’s safety, is that you wished to visit him in Indonesia. We suggested you contact him directly as he would be better aware of his whereabouts than we. We then followed up and let you know he would be aboard the S/Y Indo Siren from 13th January. All of the crew of the S/Y Mandarin Siren were offered positions on our other yachts and assistance with further employment which, as I am sure you can imagine, was of great concern for all of our crew.
You also requested replacement for an ipod and Manchester United shirt that you had previously given to Michel as a gift. Company owner Mark Shandur informed you that all the crew had been given money not just by ourselves but the kind guests of the S/Y Indo Siren- which was in the vicinity at the time of the incident. Crew and guest belongings that could be claimed would be so under the company’s insurance and Michel would receive a payout. If you had receipts you were asked to send them as that would help us greatly with the claim.
With regards to Michel’s passport, Worldwide Dive and Sail provided Michel with a passport when he travelled to Thailand in 2009 prior to him joining the S/Y Mandarin Siren. That passport was lost before this incident however we would be more than happy to assist Michel in obtaining a new one should he request it. We have not received such a request from him at this time.
We fully agree with your comments regarding crew and we are proud that our crew work so hard, and always with a smile, to assist the guests and ensure everyone has a great holiday whichever yacht they are on.
In regards to your personal belongings left aboard the S/Y Mandarin Siren, as you have not previously made us aware that they were on board, there is little we can do now to claim for them.
If you would like to discuss further please feel free to pm through Scubaboard or email one of our team
Thank you for the reply, it still seems a shame that no reply was received to my emails and that all of this had to come to the forum and I appreciate your fast response.
I still feel that the crew should have been allowed some time to spend with their partners after going through such an incident. I was in touch with Michel as was suggested by Mark and do not see why he had to come back to work just before I was due to fly out to see him under the circumstances which he had been through. As I understand, a member of staff onboard the Indo Siren was dismissed so that Michel could continue working for yourself and am sure that this could have been delayed for another 10 days so that we could have spent some time together, which would be a natural thing for any member of staff to be able to do under the circumstances.
I am pleased to hear that everything is in place for Michel's belongings to be replaced - his name is, as I am sure you aware of your mistake though is Michel Tuerah, not Michel Clive .... I hope that the other crew who were working onboard the Mandarin at the time will too have their belongings replaced - I understand that again as there was no work available for them at the time, they have had no option but to seek employment with other operations.
Michel's passport was lost in the fire and am pleased to hear that everything is in place for it to be replaced as soon as possible and look forward to hearing further updates via email. Michel did tell me that he informed yourselves about my Sea Shepherd hoodie at your office in Makassar when he was being questioned about his belongings.
There is still no reason as to why I received such "brisk" responses with strong words in them though, however, much pressure anyone is under, words such as s*** should never be used in response to any kind of work-related email.
In the meantime, I sincerely hope that he will not be taken diving again to 16 metres unless he is given full and licensed training.
Finally, I also hope that no more vessels will be at risk, this is the second vessel to have sunk in a few years and from my experience from working in the airline industry, this is quite a statistic.
Last edited by maria munn; March 7th, 2012 at 05:41 AM.
Built by Divers for Divers - Liveaboards in Asia and the Pacific
Thank you for responding to our post. As your statements are at odds our own understanding we have taken some time to investigate in order to offer a clear response to your concerns.
We have checked the correspondence date stamps and email mail spam folders and can locate no messages or communication from you after 5th January 2012. If you have sent additional messages please resend them to email@example.com in order for us to be better able to address your concerns.
Thank you for your concern over the general well being of all of our S/Y Mandarin Siren crew members. As stated in our earlier post, all of the crew were offered positions aboard our other yachts. Some have chosen to take this offer, others decided to seek employment elsewhere - to which they have been given our full support and recommendation.
Michel chose to join the S/Y Indo Siren and arranged with our Indonesia office the date for his return to work. The date for which was communicated to you on the 6th January.
According to our records Michel's passport was lost in May 2010 the S/Y Mandarin Siren was lost to fire December 2011. As Michel is working in his home country of Indonesia he has not required a passport or requested that Worldwide Dive and Sail support his application for a new one. Should he request us to do so we will more than happily oblige.
The instructor who took Michel for a dive confirms that the depth was to a maximum of 6m and conducted according to the standard safe diving practices for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving Experience, in which Michel was participating. We encourage all of our non-diving crew to learn scuba diving from our on board instructors. We believe this will enable our crew to gain a better understanding of the guests' needs but also so they can have an enjoyable experience and see some of the wonders we all regularly enjoy.
Thank you again for raising your concerns with us, please address any further personal concerns or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and your query will be answered promptly.
Following the unfortunate incident with the Mandarin Siren which sank near Raja Ampat after a fire, and the subsequent debate on this Forum I wrote this open letter addressed to the diving industry in general and the liveaboard business in Asia in particular. I hope to reach as many people as possible to support this initiative so that the working conditions of local employees can greatly improve. So if you agree, please forward this URL: http://nire.nl//open letter.htm to as many people as you can or publish it to as many diving related groups or sites as you know!
As a reply to the last thread (8 march 2012) I can say the following. As I see it the Siren Fleet Team did not give the crew members, who lost everything they got the support they deserved. Yes, they offered them a job on other Siren ships and some money, but that's the least they could do in these circumstances. The Siren Fleet Team is not responsible for the way this matter is handled, the owners are!
They have done everything for the unfortunate guests, which is good let me point that out. But why haven't they given the affected crew members the treatment they deserve? It looks as if damage control is the key and that should not be the case.
But there is more to say. You can call it symptoms of a fast expanding industry with little reflective capacity, no transparency at all and a kind of arrogant attitude (we are the best mentality). Change is inevitable and has to be seen in a broader perspective.
The liveaboard industry is big business. Huge amounts are paid to take divers to remote areas. But at what cost? Do divers realise that local people working on these boats work very, very hard for what we would call a tip? Ok you can argue that they get paid according to local laws, regulations or standards. But why let them work for up to 6 months, 12 to 16 hours a day in a row without any short break or vacation in between to be able to spend time with their families andchildren? Sounds like a modern kind of slavery to me. In Egypt the local people who work on the liveaboards usually have a break every 2 months or so to be ableto see their families at the very least.
Safety on board is important but is mostly dependant on the weakest link which is us - humans. I feel there is a high risk of safety being compromised from working such long hours. On Siren's Website (Worldwide Dive and Sail, Liveaboard diving with the Siren Fleet in Asia & the Pacific) there is no mission statement. Nothing on the site refers to the owners opinions about environmental, human rights or labour issues (like rural development, working conditions, employment security etc.) or whatever this business in these regions could affect.
For the three stakeholders involved I would suggest the following:
1.Owners: be transparent and communicate in an open way. Set up a set of rules for social conduct in the liveaboard business according to good governance practice (regional if you like). This means that people working in the liveaboard industry get certain rights based on international labour standards (like regulated working hours, pauses during work, vacation, payment etc) like we do have in Europe and the US! It's an ethical thing to do and if they've got balls, most ownersare male ;-), they will!
2.Employees: get organised. People working on the liveaboards should organize themselves unionwise. I already informed the International Labour Organization International Labour Organization, which has an regional office in Thailand, of this practice and asked them to do a survey. If applicable, employers in the liveaboard industry should comply with article IV of the MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION, 2006 (see website mentioned) or at least embrace the spirit of this document. The liveaboard industry depends largely on the loyalty of their crew members. This loyalty should be recognised and rewarded accordingly.
3. Divers: get independent information. Another way to push this matter in the right direction is to get divers who consider a liveaboard trip more aware of the consequences of their choices. Transparency is the key. A possibility is to open a website with all the facts and figures about the use of labor in this business. It can be expanded with other useful information. At this moment only travel agencies have full access to most of the facts you actually want to know yourself when planning a liveaboard trip. You depend mostly on this information or on want you can find elsewhere on the Internet (ie Forums). As the publishers of dive magazines in many cases are closely linked with the industry, I don't find their information in these issues very trustworthy. With the correct information available, better choices can be made based on other information rather than just price, safety or otherwise. For the owners it can be one of their unique selling points which they can use in their marketing activities.
So three possible actions could be taken that could improve the way this industry operates. There must be many more to think of. It will be a challenge to do the right things but in this modern day and age it's an urgent appeal to the responsible owners in the dive industry to take the neccesery action so that their hard-working employees receive the same freedom to spend time with their loved ones as we are able to do so. Crew wouldn't get so tired, would work far more productively and stay with a company for the long-term thereby saving training costs and guests are far happier seeing the same faces year after year reflecting the true signs of a genuinely caring company and organically protecting and growing profit margins.
Finally, and by far and away the most important point is that we, by supporting this, also help to protect our own safety at the same time. It truly would be a win/win situation for everyone .....
Ah, the wisdom of the West returns to the East--didn't the Dutch try this before?
I'm not being pro-industry but this "us against the evil owners" tone is not what I perceive the typical local Indonesian boat crews to be expressing. True, there is only one crew I became familiar with (on the former Archipelago Adventurer II) however my rather constant reading of trip reports from other divers on this forum suggests I'm not too far off in my opinion. Read AlMitch's most excellent trip report aboard the Mandarin Siren II, posted yesterday on this forum. He not only expresses a similar observation about the crew's attitude but his boat happened to be in the vicinity of the fire. Enough said.
Anyone can slap a "Mission Statement" on a website, what matters is what a company does. I've seen nothing on this forum, or from other sources, that suggests the Siren Fleet hasn't dealt with the loss of their boat in less than a professional manner. This thread was started as a report on a tragic incident. Piling on the Siren Fleet with your own cause celebre against the liveaboard industry seems misplaced and perhaps warrants you starting your own thread.
Typically that is how it is done on SB. If you have a gripe against the industry (and we probably all have one or two... ) aim it at them on your own thread, possibly on the "Liveaboards & Charter Boats" forum where it would have a wider audience. It's not like you don't make some valid points but phrases such as "sounds like a modern kind of slavery to me" or " if they've got balls" weakens the validity of your argument. I'm just sayin'... // ww
Last edited by Warmwater Wank; March 9th, 2012 at 09:43 PM.
I'm not particular proud of the colonial heritage of the Dutch in the East or wherever, but it fortunately has nothing to do with this issue. Although you could argue that the wisdom of the West often has a neo colonial touch that's why I would rather say: let's get some Eastern wisdom to the West.
I'm not impressed by treads about how crew members became our 'best friends' and that they are smiling all day. To me it says a lot about the lack of knowledge about the Asian culture. Asians in general are very curious, open and they always want to know everything about your family, where you live, about your work etc. Besides that, they don't get angry in public and they do actually smile a lot. You easy get the feeling they are your friends after a week or so.
But the most important thing is that crew members don't publish on fora like this one, they don't have a voice to express what they think or feel, so how on earth would you know if they are really happy and satisfied with their jobs, their payment, working conditions etc. (besides the smiling)? Maybe by asking them after 3 months, 12 hours a day working?
It's not my intention to blame it all to the owners, although they play an important role in this. As you can read I address this letter to three stakeholders involved, they all play a role and can change things for the better.
I posted my tread on this forum as a reply to previous posts as I thought it would be appropriate. But you have a strong argument, thank you, I'll also post it on the forum you mentioned.
To me it says a lot about the lack of knowledge about the Asian culture. Asians in general are very curious, open and they always want to know everything about your family, where you live, about your work etc. Besides that, they don't get angry in public and they do actually smile a lot.
You appear to be claiming though the words I've quoted above that you are especially knowledgeable about Asian culture. May I ask how you have gained your insights? To my mind, your explanation of Asian culture seems rather superficial. I think one could make similar statements about people from just about anywhere. (I.e., try this on for size: "Americans are, in general, very curious about foreigners they meet. They are friendly and open, and they want to know everything about your family, where you live, your work, etc.")
While not ethnically Asian, I have been a member of an Asian family for 36 years, and I have lived in Asia for the past 11 years. Through my experiences with my immediate and extended family, and through my observations as a resident in Asia, my first impression of your post #26 above was, he is trying to apply Western codes of behaviour in relation to Asian practices. In other words, I had a similar reaction to that of warmwater wank when he wrote:
Originally Posted by Warmwater Wank
Ah, the wisdom of the West returns to the East
I know that even after being exposed to my Asian family for 25 years before coming to live in Asia, I still had to adjust my views a great deal when I got here because the aspects of everyday life that we deem critical in the West are not necessarily the same as those deemed critical in the East. Understandably, my Asian family had become westernized from living outside of Asia for so long, and they had "assimilated" Western lifestyles and attitudes in many respects, just as I have now become more "easternized" in the decade I've resided here. In Asia, society is organized differently from the West; roles and responsibilities are apportioned differently than in the West; approaches to work (the work ethic) is vastly different from that in the West. There is not a "right" or "wrong" approach--neither Eastern nor Western is "best"; they are merely "different."
Your essay seems to suggest that only local staff suffer the hardships of life aboard a liveaboard dive boat. In fact, there are really no differences in working hours, leave periods, or supplemental benefits when comparing local staff and non-local staff on dive boats. Everybody works very long hours with very little time off between cruises. The main differences would consist of earnings potential, but even non-local staff earn very little in the scuba industry, and their expenses are always elevated (with aspects such as obtaining work permits, doing visa runs, paying for travel home to visit family, and being subject to the inevitable two-tiered pricing structure that is present throughout the region for virtually everything one spends money on).
So while I applaud your motivation to encourage equitable and humane working conditions for local hires, I wonder whether your perceptions are not actually skewed by your own cultural lens.
I am going to chime in on this. I was a passenger on the mandrin siren when it caught fire and sank.
It was a tough experience. I've been boating since basically birth. This was the first major boat accident that I have been part of. Accidents happen. I lost many irreplaceable items in the fire and was in a cloud of shock after the incident. It was devastating.
In the aftermath WWDS did evey possible thing to make the best of a really tough situation. I lost a lot it is true but also WWDS lost a boat and the crew lost their things as well. My impression is that this organization cares very much for their ships, staff and passengers.
Some of the comments here seem very unfair to me.
I must say that after getting to know the crew and staff at WWDS I trust that they are committed to doing the right thing for all parties involved.