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Crew changeovers and Covid-19

There’s still no peace for seafarers

by Port News Editorial Staff

On the International Day of the Seafarer, the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) once again call on the EU institutions and Member States to adopt immediate coordinated measures to enable seafarers to return home, receive medical care, when required, and enjoy brief periods of shore leave.

In a press release, the two associations point out that seafarers from all over the world have been facing enormous difficulties in being replaced by other crew members or being repatriated for months now. For Europe in particular, the very limited capacity to issue visas to enter the Schengen area further complicates an already extremely complex situation and could become a critical issue once travel restrictions are lifted in all countries.

Estelle Brentnall, ETF Maritime Manager said that, in some cases, seafarers had now been confined to ships for months beyond their charter period and at this very moment there were hundreds of thousands of seafarers for whom the necessary crew changes should have been made, which meant that hundreds of thousands of lives are directly affected by the inaction and lack of coordination of states around the world. “Hundreds of thousands of seafarers who are unable to spend time with their loved ones and others who cannot work.”

ETF and ECSA have announced that they already have detailed measures in place to facilitate the issuance of visas to enter the Schengen area and have already urged EU Member States to facilitate crew changes and provide them with medical assistance. At the same time, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has approved several protocols to allow such procedures.

Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General stated that there are 2 million seafarers and global trade depends on them, as ships carry more than 80% of global trade. The seafarers have respected their contracts and now governments must ensure that their rights are respected in turn.

The battle of the two Associations is shared and supported also by Confitarma: “The seafarers deserve our heartfelt thanks”- says the n.1 of the Confederation, Mario Mattioli – “but thanking them is not enough. They deserve a rapid and decisive humanitarian action by Governments all over the world to guarantee them safe transit corridors to get them on board to work and to return home once their normal embarkation period is over.”

Translation by Giles Foster

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