The UN secretary-general was urged on Friday by shipping and trade unions leaders to persuade his 193 member states to act urgently to avoid a “humanitarian crisis”, with over 200,000 seafarers currently stuck working on vessels across the globe and unable to be relieved of their duties.
In a joint letter to António Guterres, the leaders of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), urged the secretary-general to ensure governments were adopting the 12-step set of protocols issued by the UN’s own maritime regulator, the International Maritime Organization.
The letter states: “There are now over 200,000 seafarers onboard vessels worldwide who have completed their contractual tour of duty, but have been prevented from returning home. Many of these seafarers will be experiencing adverse effects on their mental health and reduced ability to safely perform their roles in the face of increasing fatigue.
“Additionally, stringent restrictions imposed by many countries, including denial of shore leave and access to essential medical assistance, is contributing to fatigue and exhaustion. We are concerned about suicide and self-harm amongst this vulnerable population of workers.”
The letter highlights the responsibility of governments to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
“Time is running out. We ask action be taken immediately, ahead of 16 June 2020 – the final agreed deadline to implement crew changes for our seafarers,” the letter states.
In related news, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore has confirmed news first covered by Splash, setting out a way for crew changes to take place in the busy shipping hub for seafarers who have worked beyond their contracts.