Plea For Government Action: FAIR FUTURE FOR SEAFARERS
Seafarers in the front line of the logistics chain continue to hack out over wind and waters, over difficult working conditions, with uncertainties on port access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation, to name the major ones.
The 2021 Day of the Seafarer campaign will continue to encourage governments to support seafarers amid the pandemic but will expand its message, calling for a fair future for seafarers.
After the COVID -19 pandemic, concerns will be pushed like fair treatment of seafarers, fair working conditions in line with ILO's Maritime Labour Convention.
Intl Maritime Organization (IMO) Sec-General Kitack Lim has called on IMO Member States to work together towards a fair global distribution, beyond fulfilling their national needs.
Lim underscores “No seafarers should be left behind or forced to forgo their careers because of limited resources in their home country.”
He insists, the health of the world’s seafarers and the safety of their workplaces has to remain one of the main priorities and can only be guaranteed if industry and Member States continue to provide all necessary measures such as testing, appropriate PPE, access to medical care and sanitation facilities.
Most States are prioritizing essential workers in their national COVID-19 vaccination programs,
with the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts or SAGE Roadmap.
To date only 58 of IMO 174 Members have notified they have done so.
The Intl Chamber of Shipping (ICS), along with industry and social partners, are encouraging ships in ports to sound their horns at 12 noon local time on 25th June, in honour of the IMO ‘Day of the Seafarer’ to remind on the urgent need to vaccinate all seafarers.
ICS Sec-Gen Guy Platten said, “We know just how important last year’s Heroes at Sea Shoutout was in raising the attention about the crew change crisis. Unfortunately, with the new variants and the dreadful outbreaks in India, seafarers are once again being forgotten.”
Some countries, like the United States and the Netherlands, have begun seafarer inoculation programmes utilising their ports as vaccine hubs. Vitally they are vaccinating both native and non-native seafarers that enter their ports.
But many countries are shutting off their borders to travellers due to fears of emerging variants and the threat they will pose to domestic vaccination efforts.
Without shipping, life would be different as around 90% of world trade is transported by ship. Around 1.7 million seafarers make it possible every day, using over 61,000 ships.
In the Philippines, MARINA Administrator Robert Empedrad sina, IATF Carlito Galvez Jr and Sen. Christopher Go that seafarers be on the A4 category of the government vaccination program.
The move was complemented by Chairperson Raymond Democrito C. Mendoza, of the TUCP Partylist. JMG Director Jose Albar Kato called the concern, “an emergency situation” debilitating a sector that remits some $6.5billions to the local economy.
ALMA spokesman Julius Yano thinks, “there will be less preference for Filipino seafarers if compared with other nationals that have already received vaccinations such as the Russians, Singaporeans, Chinese or Indians.”