May 13th 2020

The International Transport Workers’ Federation is commending the world’s seafarers for “professionally and diligently doing their jobs during this unprecedented, uncertain time.”

It says it is working with international organizations and governments to “restart” the crew change process so that mariners represented by ITF affiliate unions can return to their homes.

“Despite the restrictions and the threat of exposure to the virus, our unions and their members, the world’s seafarers, continue to perform their duties to ensure that the essential goods we need to live day to day are delivered,” ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair Dave Heindel said Monday in a message to the world’s seafarers.

“For people who have not worked on a ship, it is hard to understand what it is like to live and work for six, eight or even 10 months on board.”

“For seafarers it is a lifestyle, but when contracts end, seafarers are ready to go home and have an absolute right under the International Labor Organization’s Maritime Labor Convention of 2006 to do so.”

As a result of intense lobbying by the ITF and its affiliates, he said, the IMO has issued a 12-step plan to its 174 Member States on how to “restart” crew changes so that seafarers can disembark and fresh crews can be deployed.

“Although this does not automatically mean that restrictions will be lifted immediately since each government must put in place processes and procedures for crew changes to happen, it is a step in the right direction,” he said.

“Rest assured that the ITF and its affiliated unions will continue to pressure UN agencies, governments and employers to prioritize the facilitation of crew changes for the world’s seafarers so that it is no longer an issue.”

“The ITF and our affiliates–your unions–will not let up the pressure until every seafarer is home safely and those seafarers that have patiently waited at home to relieve their colleagues are on board so that the world’s goods continue to get where they are needed thanks to all of you.”