The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have jointly sent an open letter to the United Nations agencies for the global maritime industry calling on them to facilitate crew changes to keep world trading moving throughout the coronavirus crisis.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold it is vital that all governments keep maritime trade moving by continuing to allow commercial ships access to ports worldwide and by facilitating the movement and rapid changeover of ships’ crews,” ICS and ITF said in the letter.
The two organisations emphasised the importance to keep supply chains open and maritime trade and transport moving and the vital need for the world’s professional merchant seafarers to be granted appropriate exemptions from any national travel restrictions, when joining or leaving their ships during the current time of global crisis.
According to the letter, every month, around 100,000 seafarers need to be changed over from the ships which they operate in order to comply with relevant international maritime regulations.
“In view of their vital role during the global pandemic, we suggest that professional seafarers, regardless of nationality, should be treated as any other international ‘key workers’, such as airline crew and medical personnel. As such, they should be afforded special consideration and, notwithstanding the need to comply with emergency health protocols, treated with pragmatism and understanding when seeking to travel to and from their ships,” the letter said.
ICS and ITF has requested, as a matter of urgency, that the topic be added to the agenda of appropriate high level meetings of UN member countries.