Thursday, September 24, 2020

World Maritime Day Brings Increased Protests Over Stranded Crew Situation

International Unions Criticise Flag Authorities for Inaction During Crisis
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – The Nautilus Federation, an influential group of 22 international maritime and inland waterways unions, has released a joint statement from its affiliates in a bid to add further pressure on governments and industry to resolve the ongoing crew change crisis.

Today is World Maritime Day and the statement, which can be read in full HERE, draws attention to the apparent inability for some of the world’s largest flags to enforce the fundamental rights of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic. While many of these Flags of Convenience (FOCs) quickly ratified the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC), the ‘ease and speed by which many flag states subsequently ignored the rights of seafarers is a stain on the entire maritime industry'.

The Nautilus Federation affiliates say all have worked hard with their own national jurisdictions, demonstrating numerous attempts at resolving the crisis at national level, and now the Federation is calling on the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to approach the International Labour Organization (ILO) to hold to account those Flag States that have failed to respect the fundamental rights of seafarers.

The statement adds:

  • Maritime and shipping professionals should be recognised globally as keyworkers
  • IMO and ILO protocols for crew change should be adopted by the entire industry
  • Port States should assist Flag States by enforcing the provisions of the MLC and detaining ships that do not comply

The World Maritime Day statement from the Nautilus Federation complements an earlier statement backing ships' officers in supporting crews who may be mentally and physically exhausted from being stuck at sea during the pandemic. Nautilus Federation director Mark Dickinson said:

”Maritime and shipping professionals, at sea and on inland waterways, have had enough. We will continue to push for an international solution, together as Nautilus Federation affiliates and as affiliates of ITF, so that the key workers of the world's seas and rivers are able to get to and from their vessels without delay.

”Should that international solution cause Port States to detain growing numbers of vessels until seafarers are repatriated, the industry and governments will need to prepare for the disruption this would cause to global supply chains. This is a wholly predicted, yet avoidable, humanitarian crisis, and we call for action against governments who deny seafarers their fundamental rights.”