Seafarers in their unions are putting more pressure on the world’s governments to allow for crew changes, as more than 200,000 seafarers are now trapped aboard vessels working beyond their contracts.
In an Open message from major labour providing unions affiliated to the ITF to global seafarers and the International Community, the unions declare their support for the global federation’s ‘Enough is Enough’ position, which pledges unions to assist seafarers in getting off ships and returning home if their contract has finished and it is safe to do so.
Welcoming the statement are ITF Seafarers Section Chair Dave Heindel, and First Vice-Chair Conrad Oca.
“We in the ITF have done everything we can to try and help break the logjam and get seafarers back home once their contracts have finished. We have worked with employers through the International Chamber of Shipping and the JNG to successfully lobby the International Maritime Organisation and the International Labour Organisation. We have even secured the United Nations declaring seafarers key workers and the Secretary-General’s support,” said Dave Heindel.
“The reason we campaign at this high level with these international bodies is so that we can give governments the tools to implement practical crew change protocols. They cannot say they haven’t been given the tools, or the time, to do this.”
“I am encouraged to see the major labour providing unions affiliated to the ITF come out with a fresh commitment to the global campaign to make crew change happen. Countries are starting to make the changes they need to. It is our unity that is achieving that progress, said Dave Heindel.
First Vice-Chair Conrad Oca, who is also President of the Associated Marine Officers' and Seamen's Union of the Philippines, said the joint statement showed that seafarers right across the world understood the power of solidarity.
“The ITF has been saying that the price of global trade, of a global labour market, is that people are able to return home when they have finished working.”
“While there are some positive signs across the world from governments, we cannot let this moment pass. Now is the time to bring in crew change protocols everywhere so seafarers who have finishsed their contracts can get off a ship, get to an airport and return safely to their home country. For supply routes to keep operating – governments must allow fresh crew to relieve us.”
“This crew change crisis has put an incredible strain on seafarers, their families – and yes, their unions. It is a high-pressure situation. But along every step of the way, we walk in solidarity. We are in this together,” concluded Conrad Oca.