Vicissitudes & crew changes

Government has to help seafarers

by Port News Editorial Staff

Thirteen organizations representing the European and international maritime social partners have written a letter to the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, calling for urgent political action for the welfare of seafarers.

The letter appreciates the efforts of the Italian authorities, but stresses that even more needs to be done to facilitate crew changes, which currently take place only to a very small extent compared to what is really necessary. Moreover, it stresses the essential role seafarers play in maintaining the global supply of energy, food, medicine and medical supplies, and points out that many seafarers have been away from home for months due to travel restrictions imposed by governments while those who were supposed to replace them are prevented from joining their vessels.

Confitarma, as a member of ECSA, ICS, Intertanko, Intercargo, BIMCO and IMEC, supports what the letter says: “This is a humanitarian crisis that must be solved to protect seafarers who have been on ships for too long. However, there is an urgent need to solve this crisis ashore too,” said the President of the Italian Shipowners Confederation, Mario Mattioli.

The organizations signing the letter call on the Italian Government to sign and implement the commitments made in the Ministerial Declaration at the International Maritime Summit on Crew Changes, held on 9th July 2020 by the UK Government, in particular: to designate all seafarers, regardless of nationality, as “key workers” and to ensure that seafarers are able to go on board or leave their vessels for repatriation and can carry out crew changes, taking shore leave and medical treatment without any restrictions.

The letter also asks for temporary measures to be introduced to consent any visa requirements to be lifted and to create the necessary conditions for maritime air corridors from EU Member States and seafarers’ major countries of origin

These commitments have so far been made by 13 countries, including the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Norway. The letter points out that Italy plays a key role in the global supply chain, with its central position and important ports and airports in the Mediterranean, and calls on Italy, as a member of the IMO Council, to set an example by adopting the commitments made in the ministerial declarations at national level.

Translation by Giles Foster

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