Employers and seafarer trade unions have agreed one final month’s extension before crews working beyond their stipulated contracts must be repatriated. The deal, thrashed out yesterday, means governments have until June 15 to resolve the crew change issue that has seen around 150,000 seafarers waiting beyond their contracts to get home thanks to strict travel restrictions put in place following the spread of Covid-19 across the world.
In a joint statement from the International Transport Workers Federation and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) yesterday the two organisations urged governments to swiftly follow the International Maritime Organization’s guidelines issued earlier this month on crew change and to prioritise for repatriation crewmembers who have been working the longest time at sea, while also asking shipowners to increase bandwidth and internet access for men and women working at sea to get in touch with their families.
Failure to abide by the mid-June deadline, the statement warned, could “negatively impact on the commercial viability” of ship operations.
To assist governments to put in place coordinated procedures to facilitate the safe movement of seafarers, the IMO last week issued a 12-step plan to 174 member states, providing them with a roadmap to free seafarers from their Covid-19 lockdown and allow appropriate exemptions for them to join or leave ships.
The 55-page roadmap has been advanced by a broad coalition of seafarer unions, and international shipping industry associations, with input from airline industry representatives, international organisations, and the insurance sector, to provide a comprehensive blueprint of how governments can facilitate crew changeovers and resolve safety concerns throughout the entire process.
This week leading crew travel specialists Global Marine Travel and ATPI have partnered with IMEC to amalgamate the shjpping industry’s crew travel requirements to produce enough volume for airlines to bring idle aircrafts into operation.