‘Two things I’d always hoped I’d be able to stick around in the business long enough to see.’ Says Bobby Diamond, Palma De Mallorca-based dayworker, sailor, son, lover. ‘Dayworkers get recognized as people. And me get a full-time job. Now there’s only one thing left to do.’ The tears roll down his tanned cheeks to be wiped into a muddy pink smear by dusty hands. ‘I just never thought I’d see the day.’
With members of the Informal Association Of Adventurers, Backpackers and Dayworkers and Dockwalkers (IAABDD) having finally been granted the official designation of ‘People’ by the International Labour Organization – following an exhaustive campaign of leaving stacks of paper on their doorstep, and the stalking of ILO board members to their favourite bars and restaurants – the life of the average dayworker is set to change; and perhaps actually matter.
Tim Tamb, unofficial Director of the IAABDD, spells out the implications for us on one calloused hand:
‘No more waiting indefinitely at the passerelle to have a word while the crew onboard look right past you, or worse zoom the camera in and pick apart your physical appearance. No more handing out carefully crafted CVs and cover letters to hungover-looking deckhands who won’t get a department head for you only to watch your papers get placed under a water bottle and forgotten about. No more being told you only get 30 minutes for lunch and the boat doesn’t provide it even though you’re 15 minutes walk from the shops and no one warned you to bring your own food. No more showing up for a full day’s work to be told it’s only going to be a couple of hours. No more giving us attitude as though its our fault you aren’t prepared and have no idea how to manage a team. I’ve run out of fingers. No more of that ridiculously attractive masseuse pretending I don’t exist. Well, possibly that, I suppose that’s not covered by this. But no more of us being treated like imbeciles by people who are crew because we aren’t yet, even though most of them were once where we are now.’
Reaction throughout the yachting industry has been generally positive. Crewing agents, long a proponent of the humble dayworker, have been quick to congratulate the estimated 3 million adventurers, backpackers, dayworkers and dockwalkers currently considering doing yachts worst jobs for the lowest pay.
Onboard though there has been some pushback against the radical idea that those attempting to start their career should be given respect. ‘I don’t argue that they’re not people, I just don’t care.’ Says one tosser on some boat somewhere. “No one gave me any respect when I was coming up through the ‘my-cousin-who’s-a-captain’s-called-me-up’ system. Why should I give anyone else any? Earn it or burn it I always say. No, I’m not sure what that means either.”
Less controversially – though still worryingly indifferent – are those like one Chief Officer who wished to remain anonymous. ‘I don’t mind giving respect but how far is this going to go? I mean next we’ll be having to give them reasonable breaks, track their hours of rest, and provide a full familiarization. Before you know it we’ll be signing Seafarers Agreements for dayworkers!’ When it’s pointed out that this has actually been required for some time now there is a long pause. The deck officer turns in the direction of the bow where a team of young men in mismatched shirts is dutifully polishing stainless with toothbrushes. He rubs his forehead. ‘Oh dear.’