Some seafarers have been onboard for more than a year, and over the course of this pandemic many have been prevented by governments from coming ashore even for a walk and alarmingly refused emergency medical care. Frankly, we have seafarers killing themselves at the prospect of this misery continuing without end. They call them ‘floating prisons’,

...said ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair Dave Heindel.

This statement follows a previous call by ITF and JNG, giving governments 30 days to implement the framework of protocols set out in IMO's Circular Letter No.4204/Add.14.

Therefore, ITF and its affiliated unions will now assist these seafarers to exercise their right to stop working and return home.

Specifically, this new approach comes after insufficient action by governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’ and exempt them from travel restrictions, said Heindel.

We have urged them on the consequences of tired, fatigued, depressed crew – to trade, to the environment...But enough is enough. We have to draw a line in the sand and today is the day that we make it crystal clear to governments, that from June 16, seafarers are going to start enforcing their right to stop working and to return home. No more contract extensions,

...added ITF President and Dockers’ Section chair Paddy Crumlin.

Meanwhile, ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton said all that governments need to do is make practical exceptions to COVID-19 restrictions, and allow these key workers to transit through their territories and return to their families.

A few small changes by national governments would allow seafarers to get home, and be relieved by a fresh crew, he said.

If a seafarer wants off a ship, then the ITF, our affiliated unions and the ITF inspectorate will do everything we can to assist them. We fully expect port state authorities in all countries where ships dock to honour their obligations under the Maritime Labour Convention to get these seafarers safely home. That is their legal obligation,

...he noted.