The International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers to governments to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel.
Specifically, as it has been already said, seafarers are experiencing many challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic facing repatriation and off-signing problems. In addition, ICS along with IAPH joined forces, in mid-March, calling on G20 leaders to act quickly to protect global supply chains from the impact of COVID-19.
The letter from the shipowners’ organisation and seafarers’ union to governments follows up on their dialogue with the G20, and the positive outcomes built on in the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers virtual meeting which took place on Monday, 30 March.
In light of the situation, Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping stated that
The issue of crew changes has the potential to become a massive problem for the global economy if governments do not address our concerns … Seafarers are the unsung heroes of global trade but the current restrictions being put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are not sustainable.
Following, Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation added that the current lockdown not only threatens seafarers’ personal health and wellbeing, but also increases the risk of marine accidents and jeopardises the global supply chains that are integral to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.
He concluded that
The maritime industry is calling on governments to show respect for seafarers and coordinate a global strategy with key stakeholders, including major airlines, to ease restrictions and facilitate the changeover of ships’ crews. ITF and ICS have grave concern for thousands of seafarers whose duty on board has ended but are forced to remain at sea for additional months due to current national travel restrictions.