“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH” ITF calls for seafarer rights to stop their work and leave the ship

By Oviya Vaiz, June 16, 2020

The International Transport workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliated seafarers’ unions will now assist onboard workers who are stuck in the vessels to exercise their right to stop working, leave ship, and return home.

The unions will now assist these workers to use their right to stop working and return to their home countries following the government’s lack of acknowledgment of lowering transport restrictions for  more than 2,00,00 seafarers.

“We are sending a very strong message to seafarers: you have selflessly extended your contracts to do your part to keep critical supplies flowing around the world during this pandemic. Some seafarers have been onboard for more than a year, and over the course of this pandemic many have been prevented by governments from coming ashore even for a walk and alarmingly been refused emergency medical care. Frankly, we have seafarers killing themselves at the prospect of this misery continuing without end. They call them ‘floating prisons’. This situation is intolerable to the ITF family,” said ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair Dave Heindel.

According to the press release such a step by the unions have been taken only after continuous warnings and efficient solutions regarding the over exertion of these fatigued and depressed workers to which the government failed to take the necessary actions to relieve these seafarers. The ITF has made an announcement that after 16th June 2020 no contracts will be extended to continue the functions of the industry, which will have a major impact on the global trade.

“But enough is enough. We have to draw a line in the sand and today’s the day that we make it crystal clear to governments, that from June 16, seafarers are going to start enforcing their right to stop working and return home. No more contract extensions.” said ITF President and Dockers’ Section chair Paddy Crumlin.

The ITF has suggested various measures to be implemented by the governments for repatriation of the current workers and to be relieved by new set of workers by making small exceptions in the travel restrictions which will help the workers transit and go back to their home countries.

ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton said, “If a seafarer wants off a ship, then the ITF, our affiliated unions and the ITF inspectorate will do everything we can to assist them. We fully expect port state authorities in all countries where ships dock to honour their obligations under the Maritime Labour Convention to get these seafarers safely home. That is their legal obligation.”