The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) expressed their support about IMO’s circular concerning crew change.
Specifically, as partners JNG and ITF agreed twice to extend the seafarers’ contracts in order to keep them safe from exposure to Covid-19 and also appreciating the enormity of the challenges this global pandemic poses in terms of travel restrictions and flights availability.
To remind, IMO’s Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14 includes recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, a number of seafarers have been required to stay on board beyond their employment contract period while others are waiting to be deployed so that they can join their ships and continue to earn a living.
In the meantime, they both agreed that given the current situation concerning the lack of crew change can no longer continue as this could have severe impacts on seafarers’ health and wellbeing.
They both highlight the dangers arising from fatigue; That’s why they agreed not to extend the contracts, but to support an implementation period of no longer than 30 days (up until 15 June 2020) so that governments have time to implement the framework of protocols as set out in the IMO Circular Letter.
Therefore, the parties have agreed:
- To support a transition period for governments and employers to implement the IMO issued framework of protocols, allowing up to 30 days starting from 15 May 2020 to ensure safe facilitation of crew changes takes place;
- That companies will consider, if financially viable and possible, to financially acknowledge every seafarer whose employment contract has expired, but who has continued to work;
- That companies will consider, if financially viable and possible, to provide seafarers waiting to be deployed an advance salary payment;
- That companies will, where possible, provide seafarers with extra bandwidth and internet access to be able to communicate with home; and
- That, when crew change commences, those seafarers who have been on-board the longest will be prioritised and repatriated first regardless of rank.
- Finally the ITF and the JNG want to alert Flag States, P&I Clubs, Operators and Charterers that, in the event of the Framework of Protocols for Crew Change not taking effect by mid-June 2020, the consequence of stress related sickness affecting seafarers and their inability to consistently access medical support ashore may negatively impact on the commercial viability of the ship operations.