Towards A Sustainable Crewing System for Inland Waterways

Related to: Inland Waterways, health and safety, Social Dialogue, Sustainable Crewing in IWT

Manning requirements are rules that dictate the minimum number and skill level of the staff onboard an active vessel. In inland waterways these requirements are a contentious issue, since they have a major impact on costs, profitability, safety and working conditions.

To bring some factual detail to the debate, the ETF Inland Waterways section is working on the project Towards A Sustainable Crewing System (TASCS). This project, co-funded by the EU and carried out with the European Barge Union and the European Skippers’ Organisation, aims to develop reasonable manning requirements for vessel crewmembers on the European Waterway Network.

Essentially, TASCS is a workload assessment, which will also investigate whether and how this workload impacts on crew members at managerial and operational level.

This project will identify and assess all critical aspects of inland navigation that have an impact on the crew members of a vessel while they are at work or resting. Some of the influences have already been identified, but this list is far from exhaustive: Automatic identification systems, radar, loading/unloading schemes, ballast installations, water levels, the size and shape of vessels, containerisation, liquid natural gas fuel & cargo, new fuels, shorter turnaround times in ports, new functionalities in ports, working time and the EU working time directive for inland waterways, stress, fatigue, use of single vessels or convoys, modes of operation, types of cargo, water stretch to be sailed, infrastructural bottlenecks, noise, vibrations, telematics, administrative burden (such as food cargo which brings a lot of red tape), engines, physical equipment (such as winches), passenger vessels, new electronic tools ESRB/E-Logbook, etc …

By bringing an empirical approach to issues of concern to workers and business, TASCS thus aims to support the European Social Dialogue in inland waterways. Indeed, the project is conceived more particularly as a way to implement the European Social Partners’ work programme.

The final ambition of the European Social Partners is a documented proposal with different options, for an easy-to-use (transparent, flexible, sustainable) and easy-to-enforce manning requirements for the European waterways network. Of course, this must take into account relevant differences and variations across the network, its vessels and its workforce.

Various meetings have already taken place within the project. The upcoming meetings are:

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