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600,000 Seafarers Still Unable to Get Crew Change

Photo : Synergy Group

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) estimates that there are now approximately 300,000 seafarers trapped working aboard ships due to the crew change crisis caused by government Covid-19 border and travel restrictions, and an equal number of unemployed seafarers waiting to join them who are ashore. That makes 600,000 seafarers affected by this crisis.

ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton says in the month since July 15 there has been some positive movement, but too little progress has been made by governments to bring in the practical exemptions and protocols needed to support functioning crew changes across the world.

“Seafarers and their unions are deeply concerned about the risk to life, property and the environment as the chances of a major catastrophe or catastrophes rises daily. Governments 
must act before we see more people die, or worse – a major maritime disaster. Urgent action is required,”

The crisis also implies the approximate 300,000 seafarers unable to leave home and replace their pairs trapped at sea, meaning that these maritime workers are facing highly potential financial issues. 

Chair of the ITF Seafarers Section, Dave Heindel, said the ITF and its social partners have been doing everything possible to raise the alarm and push for the practical changes that would enable crew changes.

“We have worked together with our partners to find practical solutions and propose these to governments. We commend the governments which have brought in options for seafarers to disembark and be relieved by fresh crew, such as visas on arrival and visa waivers, but the sad fact is that globally governments aren’t doing near what is needed and some governments have even gone backwards,” 

“We renew our call for governments to take action on visas, quarantining and flights to see a return towards functioning crew changes for this global workforce. We are prepared to explore other options to influence more governments to take this crisis seriously,” said Dave Heindel.

For a picture of the actual situation in different countries: