Greece is champion on the seven seas
Greece again is the Number One Shipping Nation on the water. This year the Greek shipping companies have reconquered this title. However, the acknowledgement is in anyway a benefit for the Greek mariners - two of three Greek seafarers are usually unemployed.
Starting form the mid-1990s the Greek shipping companies were at the top of the shipping nation charts. In 2000, when Japan achieved the first place, Greece got a competitor and was battling with the leader during 20 years. By the start of 2014 having a fleet totaling 165 million GT Greece conquered the title of the „Top Shipping Nation“ back.
However, the first place in the charts leads to contradiction. Being the winner and having the largest merchant fleet Greece has an unemployment rate of 70 %. According to the statements by the union, in spite of a good shipping business more than 10,000 of 14,000 Greek mariners are without a job. This contradiction has its simple explanation: the Greek owners are increasingly changing the flags of their ships. They register the vessels in countries with low taxes and low labor costs. According to researches only 28% of cargo was transported on Greek ships with Greek flag in 2010. At the beginning of the 90’s there was still 83% of cargo shipped by Greek ships running under the domestic flag.
On Greek ships that are not running under Greek flag most of the crew members are from low-wage countries. The Greek-flagged ships have a limited obligation to hire Greeks: on the largest tankers there are usually only 4 out of 25 Greek sailors.
In their defense, Greek shipping companies justify themselves with the contribution to the domestic economy. According to the analyses the maritime shipping sector brings in general 18 billions EUR of profit. This corresponds to 7 % of the Greek economic output.