On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, ships will sound their horns at ports across Canada at 12 noon (local time) on May 1st to recognize the 1.2 million seafarers around the world, who are keeping countries supplied with food, fuel and important supplies such as vital medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canada’s marine industry associations, including the Chamber of Marine Commerce, the Chamber of Shipping, the Shipping Federation of Canada, and the Association of Canadian Port Authorities have engaged their members to participate in this world-wide initiative.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITWF) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are encouraging this gesture of solidarity to recognize seafarers, the “unsung heroes of global trade,” during International Workers’ Day.
This global initiative will also help draw attention to issues with crew changes that some international ships have encountered due to COVID-19-related border and travel restrictions, resulting in seafarers extending their time onboard ships after lengthy periods at sea. While the Canadian government has recognized ship crews as “essential workers” and has been working with the marine sector to resolve any issues that arise – the ICS and ITWF have been advocating for the implementation of similar measures in other countries around the world.“We’re proud of our seafarers and all other marine workers on shore that have continued to operate quietly and efficiently to keep logistics chains working at full capacity,” said Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Essential goods including bulk grain for making bread and pasta and various other supplies and containerized medical goods continue to flow to Canadians, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“During this pandemic, the challenges of life in a ship are extraordinary. With numerous nations not allowing crew changes and a near shutdown of international airline travel, a significant number of seafarers are unable to
return home to their families through normal crew change procedures,” said Robert Lewis-Manning, President of the Vancouver-based Chamber of Shipping.