The International Transport Workers’ Federation is continuing its campaign to call attention to the plight of seafarers forced to continue to work during the coronavirus crisis.
After strongly denouncing the ITF’s call to action, the London-based charity Human Rights at Sea announced that it would retract its criticism and apologized for the language and tone of its criticism.
Recognizing the ongoing challenges, the ITF and the Joint Negotiating Group, along with the International Chamber of Shipping also issued a new joint statement clarifying the ITF’s earlier action
ITF and JNG jointly said that “they recognize that, when seafarers have finished their extended contracts, they are fatigued physically and/or mentally and feel that they are not fit to continue to safely perform their duties at the level required of a professional.
They also responded to some of the reports, saying, “This is not an incitement to go on strike!
Several countries have taken actions to address the challenges of port and broader closures, lack of visas, and travel restrictions that are making it difficult to facilitate crew changes.
The challenge, however, is far from over and in some places, the rules are being increased.
Other countries are struggling to manage the influx of returning crew members, often employed on cruise ships.
The ITF highlighted the broad range of actions it is taking to address the crew welfare issues that it identified.
Noting that the ITF “has not publicly called out or put the blame on companies and employers,” they none the less said, that “the ILO confirmed that force majeure can no longer be used as a blanket excuse for seafarers’ contract extensions, but these must be considered on a case-by-case basis.”
The joint ITF and JNG statement concluded striking a conciliatory tone. They said, “Our main concern is that failing to relieve fatigued, stressed and desperate crew, is only inviting accidents or major incidents which will damage the shipping industry and the reputation of those same seafarers who, throughout the pandemic, have professionally and responsibly carried on and continued working in order to keep the world’s global supply chain moving.”
They renewed the call to work together with the various agencies and nations, on finding solutions to the hardships of seafarers resulting from the current global health crisis.
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