I've been studying the Steiner employment issue recently (online, as I don't actually have any crucial interest in that, it's done for purely academic purposes, so, myself, I am reluctant to invest greater amounts of time and money in this research), and I must admit that I have found a number of negative comments, mostly regarding five key problems with that, videlicet:
1) tremendous overtime;
2) slave-drivers for managers (killer attitude);
3) excessive focus on pushing cosmetics and other relevant products, with the s#!t actually being put AHEAD of the quality of services in terms of importance and employee appraisal;
4) insufficient investment to earnings ratio (a person has to pay $$$ for simply being allocated to a ship by Steiner, the amount being even greater if we consider indirect losses, i.e. time, etc., and eventually only gets $$ or even $ in return, so to say. Not that it would always be like that, of course, but such risk is definitely to be considered);
5) complete lack of any labour protection (whereas you do expect to have some in the 21st century, but there are people saying that refusing to work extra-long hours gets you fired, failure to sell heaps of cosmetics leaves you with no customers, being sick gets you thrown overbo... erm... dismissed from the vessel, and so on).
As to the veracity of the comments, well, if we omit the marginal ones, both those saying something like "oh, the Horror, the HORROR!" with no factual substantiation and those that sound like "All you complainers can go to hell, you're nothing but miserable losers, whereas I did succeed greatly, bla bla bla ambitions, bla bla bla hard work, bla bla bla corporate interests, etc." (the latter ones, actually, are typical for use in dubious schemes, as these appeal to a person's self-esteem and are therefore damn effective for manipulation, trust me), we still have a number of decent and somewhat neutral comments, written in a very reasonable way, that refer to the aforementioned key issues. On the other hand, these aren't as numerous as one would expect when speaking about a company that hires 2000 people yearly.
At any rate, Steiner, as we all know, retains its monopoly over the onboard SPA business as of today (A market share of 90% DOES mean a monopoly. Period), so I assume that a person with a wish to do a SPA-related job afloat WILL have to deal with Steiner, one way or another. So, the question of eliminating the threat of the five aforementioned circumstances to a certain extent is, I guess, vital for a great number of people, both newcomers and ex-Steiners who consider the opportunity to return to a ship (yes, there are people like that, as far as i could see, though I haven't got a slightest idea of the actual number thereof).
This is where we confront some major principles of life itself, which are universal, worldwide and eternal. The one I'm talking about says that __an individual will NEVER beat a system__. So, if a person is dissatisfied with his or her Steiner experience and desires reimbursement (let's assume it would be fair and just), he or she will never handle the great amount of money, time and effort required in order to get a claim like that through a court successfully, especially considering that the company's registered in Bahamas, if I am correct. In the meantime, the company DOES have the required knowledge, resources and motivation to repel any legal claim like that, even if lodged by our litigative friends from the United States, not to mention the rest of the world.
If we turn to the history if labour relations in the Capitalistic era, however, we could see that the same situation persisted in just about EVERY branch of industry, let's say, in the late XIX century. A typical contemporary blue collar had all of the problems we are referring to herein, and even if any laws of the country he used to live and work in did provide for a way for him to protect his rights, he would never be able to do that due to the lack of resources. But, eventually (and, for that matter, gradually and painstakingly), the issue has been dealt with to a certain extent. The solution for opposing the system back then (here, we mean large industries, huge corporations, tycoons, etc.) was, according to the principle mentioned in the previous paragraph, was to establish a COUNTER-SYSTEM. Of course, that would be by far weaker than the dominant one at first, yet people actually did that. By themselves. These counter-systems evolved into the most effective worker protection tool Capitalist countries have ever known - labour (professional) unions.
I am not going to describe these thoroughly here (you can find a lot of decent material on the Net), but the cornerstone thereof was the SELF-COORDINATION of workers in a specific area. A dominant employer will have no hesitation getting rid of a single protester, yet it won't be able to fire everyone and thus cut its own throat (no employees = no business = no profit). Of course, there are numerous labour unions in existence already, but none of these has any international influence, these are mostly country-specific. And while crew personnel like officers, mechanics, etc. is in fact protected by a number of global maritime regulatory acts and cetain organizations dedicated to the protection of their rights, non-maritime (by definition) employees like barbers, fitness instructors, masseuses, etc. do not have that luxury. Hence, I'd suggest it is worth to establish some sort of an unofficial labour union for people working or intending to work in the maritime SPA industry (which, nowadays, means "with Steiner").
I say unofficial, because founding an official international industry-specific worker protection authority would require an immense amount of effort, one would probably have to dedicate his or her entire life to that. On the contrary, an easily built website of simple design, with a forum moderated strictly to allow only reasonable, substantial and thruthful comments, would provide a number of benefits:
1) This would be the MOST valid source of information on the problem, as by now all we have is a bunch of comments spread over different complaint sites and the silence of the employer itself.
2) It would help Steiner employees coordinate their actions with each other, e.g. try to form a team of people sent to work to a certain cruise ship immediately upon finding out of their allocation and prior to meeting each other (and their future managers, by the way), so that they could make prearrangements for combatting the key problems referred to herein, if any shall be encountered onboard.
3) The site would have a high probability to have a stable Google rating when things like onboard spas, cruise ships and the like are searched for, hence, aside from becoming an ever more effective platform, it could even yield certain financial profit for its hosts through advertising, perhaps.
4) It could get customers involved as well! As I read in some comments, customers are displeased by certain circumstances (the hard sales approach, in particular) as well, so, if it's confirmed, it could contribute to the change for the better, as the opinion of customers matters much more for a business than that of its employees (applies to any business operating in any industry all around the world and at all times).
5) The site could also be a productive platform for communication between employees and Steiner itself! Really, a Steiner PR
manager providing reasonable and respectful answers to the concerns people express would benefit all of the parties involved, as, firstly, the company could enhance its reputation by demonstrating adherence to its official statements, secondly, those who aspire to work at sea would have a reliable source of valid information, plus customers would also see for real that their opinion matters and is considered and respected, which is an undisputed positive factor.
By the way, please don't perceive this idea as an anti-Steiner measure. On the contrary, I have great respect for the people who have been able to build and develop such a grand corporation, regardless of the sometimes questionable way some of their managers seem to do business, and I do suppose that eventually the endeavour would result in beneficial consequences to the company as well, in the long-term perspective, in terms of sustainability.
Once again, the site doesn't have to be Steiner-specific, if anybody has any concerns about the possible legal and practical complications. Ideally, this would be a portal encompassing the entire scope of non-maritime ship personnel and the problems related thereto.
All right, tired of writing by now, so if there's anyone out there appreciating the standpoint and willing to undertake the implementation thereof, you're welcome to grab the idea and use it as you see fit. Well, if it does come true, I will have enough material for my future thesis that I will have to write in order to get my Master's degree in economics in a few years (that's for you guys out there who wonder about my own motives for writing that