Australia’s COVID-19 quarantine restrictions have trapped some seafarers working on ships for as long as 18 months, the ITF Australian branch noted, denouncing that Australian ports are relying on “slavery”.
In a statement to ABC, ITF Australian coordinator Dean Summers noted how Australian restrictions prevent seafarers from setting foot on land, at a time of rising demand for cargo shipping as a result of ceased flights.
As such, crews are being prevented from flying home when their contracts end, through briberies or even threats, as replacement crews cannot take their places for ongoing voyages, ABC reports.
Slavery and threatening seafarers is keeping our ports open at the moment and the Federal Government’s got to do something,
In this context, the ITF has called on the Federal Government to create a special taskforce to investigate issues regarding crew changes.
Since June, AMSA has received 129 complaints, 91 of which relate to seafarers spending more than 11 months onboard vessels.
Meanwhile, media reports this week revealed dozens of COVID-19 cases onboard another two vessels that are currently docked at Fremantle Port, including 25 cases on the Kuwait-flagged livestock carrier Al Messilah and two cases on Panamax bulker Key Integrity.