ICS and ITF call on G20 to support the “Unsung Heroes of Global Trade”

9th April 2020

COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS ARE STORING UP TROUBLE FOR SEAFARERS AND GLOBAL SUPPLYCHAINS
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) have issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers to governments to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel.

The letter from the shipowners’ organisation and seafarers’ union to governments follows up on their dialogue with the G20, and the positive outcomes built on in the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers virtual meeting which took place on Monday, 30 March.

Both the Secretary General of the ICS, Guy Platten, and Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the ITF view the situation as very pressing both for humanitarian reasons, but not least for the importance of keeping global trade going. Guy Platten commented on the letter, saying: “The issue of crew changes has the potential to become a massive problem for the global economy if governments do not address our concerns. ITF and ICS have worked closely to come forward with pragmatic solutions for governments to work on and we stand ready to support the G20, the UN institutions and most importantly our seafarers. Seafarers are the unsung heroes of global trade but the current restrictions being put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are not sustainable.”

Stephen Cotton adding that “The maritime industry is calling on governments to show respect for seafarers and coordinate a global strategy with key stakeholders, including major airlines, to ease restrictions and facilitate the changeover of ships’ crews. ITF and ICS have grave concern for thousands of seafarers whose duty on board has ended but are forced to remain at sea for additional months due to current national travel restrictions. The current deadlock not only threatens seafarers’ personal health and wellbeing, but also increases the risk of marine accidents and jeopardises the global supply chains that are integral to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic. We call for immediate and co-ordinated global action to safely resume crew changes and the repatriation of seafarers in a manner that protects the health and safety, and ultimately the lives of seafarers.”

The full letter to G20 leaders and ministers can be downloaded from www.ics-shipping.org

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