One and half million. That is the huge number of seafarers worldwide. 80,000 are Indians. Thirty per cent of them are now at home, waiting to see if and when they will ever be able to go on board again, another 60 per cent are on board with valid contracts. The remaining 10% are those who are continuing to work with expired contracts.
The new Covid wave that has swept over India is likely to create new hardships for the many Indian seafarers. The Philippines was the last country, chronologically, to cancel flights from India, not allowing the disembarkation of Philippine and foreign seafarers who had set foot in Gandhi’s country over the previous 14 days.
Singapore, Japan, Australia and many European countries have taken similar decisions. India is the fourth largest supplier of seafarers after China, the Philippines and Russia. The four nations account for half of the workforce currently employed on board ships.
200,000 are currently in the position of having to work with contracts that have long since expired.
Translation by Giles Foster