The tragic grounding of the Costa Concordia on 13 January 2012 off the coast of Tuscany with 3 200 passengers and a 1 068‑member crew, where thirty passengers lost their lives and another two are still missing; the fire of Monday, 27 February 2012 on board the Costa Allegra, with 636 passengers and a crew of 413, both ships belonging to the company Costa Cruises, an affiliate of the American Carnival group, are the outcome of an insatiable desire, on the part of the cruise ship monopolies to maximise profits through the exploitation of passengers and maritime workers. These maritime accidents are not isolated occurrences: the wreck of the Sea Diamond cruise ship continues to pollute the sea around Santorini. Through a recent court decision, a fine of EUR 1.2 million was imposed on the owners of Sea Diamond for its sinking on Thursday, 5 April 2007 in the Santorini caldera and for pollution from the leakage of oil-derivatives.
International rules concerning the manning and construction of cruise ships present a danger to the safety of human life at sea and the environment. The general services personnel, that is to say the crew members employed in accommodation sectors — three-quarters of the crew — are not included on crew lists, making it easier for shipowners not to pay salaries on the basis of the collective labour agreement of the ship’s flag state, but on the basis of the wage levels of crew members’ country of origin, or to have crew members receiving remuneration exclusively from passenger tips. The latter thus fall victim to the most brutal exploitation from the international slave trade and the cruise ship tourism business groups. The multinational composition of passengers and crew — tourists from 60 countries and crew members from 11 countries on board the Costa Concordia — poses a danger to the safety of ships and to human life at sea. Thousands of passengers and crew members are accommodated in cabins, packed closely together, in dangerous living quarters beneath the water line of the cruise ships, as a means of increasing the passenger numbers, without providing alternative escape routes for passengers and crew in emergency situations.
In view of this:
Does the Commission believe that the rules concerning the manning and construction of cruise ships are sufficient to safeguard the security of crew and passengers?
What is the Commission’s position on the necessity for inclusion of general accommodation services personnel on the crew lists of cruise ships? Does it agree with the demands by public bodies for immediate salvaging of the Sea Diamond and Costa Concordia cruise ships?