By Hanus Mikkelsen, Chief Marine HR Officer, Thome Group
The Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) is a consortium of maritime companies across the globe with the shared vision of having “a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large”. Established in 2011 with a membership of only 18 companies, MACN has grown to include over 100 members comprising of reputable ship owners, ship managers, maritime travel agencies, P&I clubs, and other maritime agencies. The success and progress made by the MACN over the last few years has demonstrated the benefit of collective action to tackle corruption in the industry.
Corruption in the shipping industry is as old as the industry itself hence the vision of an industry free of corruption, is ambitious to say the least. That said, the MACN network has proved that it is possible to curb and reverse trends when there is a collective effort.
A good example of this is the “Say No” campaign which was launched in 2015 and specifically targeted corrupt practices faced by our seafarers while transiting the Suez Canal, wherein port authorities and local individuals involved in the transit have harassed the industry and the front liners (seafarers) by demanding cigarettes, liquors, or money as compensation for work and other services already paid for. While the practice historically had been to concede to these demands, in order not to risk a delay in vessel schedule, this collective approach backed by relevant stakeholders such as governments, port authorities, shipping agents, and owners, gave seafarers the boldness to decline the propositions, resulting in significant improvements over the last 4 years.
Several of our clients are already members of MACN, so to support the vision of MACN, the commercial interest of Thome clients, and the safety and security of our seafarers, Thome Group became a member of MACN in November 2018.
With our large fleet trading around the world, Thome vessels are constantly exposed to a variety of issues related to corruption. We do recognise the magnitude of the task to fight corruption; however we believe that the benefits are immense and directly in line with living out our core value of Integrity – acting honestly, fairly, and responsibly.
To provide clear guidance to all our vessels and staff on how to handle such situations, procedures are being written to define the Company’s stand and our Code of Conduct has also been amended to include guidance on how to make decisions when faced with ethical or challenging situations. For our vessel management, the first level support will be provided by the Fleet Group and COO, however our legal and HR department are also available to provide any support or information required on this issue.
As an initial project to test and build our organisational capabilities, Thome has established a pilot project together with some of our committed owners which covers about 20% of the current fleet, including both tankers and bulkers. The pilot project will run until the autumn of 2019 after which the findings will be shared with the entire fleet and the program will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the fleet.