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Crew change: ITF and JNG Joint Statement

14 May 2020
Recommended Framework of Protocols for ensuring safe ship Crew Changes and travel during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic

The Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) representing employers and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) representing seafarers unions and their members welcome the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Circular Letter (No.4204/Add.14) that was issued last week on the 5 May 2020 to all IMO Member States, United Nations and specialised agencies, Inter-governmental and Non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO.

The circular letter provides a framework of protocols to ensure crew changes can be done safely and as soon as possible, whilst appreciating the significant challenges facing the global maritime industry brought about by Covid-19. The letter also highlights the critical yet often unknown and overlooked plight of the seafarers and the important role they play in the world economy and to our society; to wit;

"Shipping is vital to the maintenance of global supply chains, but the current situation is unsustainable for the safety and wellbeing of ship crew and the safe operation of maritime trade. Each month about 150,000 seafarers need to be changed over to and from the ships which they operate to ensure compliance with international maritime regulations for ensuring safety, crew health and welfare, and the prevention of fatigue."

Previously, as responsible social partners, the JNG (comprising of International Maritime Employers Council, International Mariners Management Association of Japan, Korean Shipowners Association and Evergreen) and the ITF(representing 215 seafarers unions and their 1 million members) agreed twice to extend the seafarers' contracts in order to keep them safe from exposure to Covid-19 and also appreciating the enormity of the challenges this global pandemic poses in terms of travel restrictions and flights availability. Consequently, a significant number of seafarers have been required to stay on board beyond their employment contract period while others are waiting to be deployed so that they can join their ships and continue to earn a living.

In discussions last week, JNG and ITF agreed that the current situation in regards to lack of crew change can no longer continue since this could be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of the seafarers, putting them at risk as well as the environment and the global supply chain. Seafarers' fatigue should not be underestimated and the social partners therefore agreed to not extend the contracts, but to support an implementation period of no longer than 30 days (up until 15 June 2020) so that governments have time to implement the framework of protocols as set out in the IMO Circular Letter.

Therefore, the parties have agreed:

  1. To support a transition period for governments and employers to implement the IMO issued framework of protocols, allowing up to 30 days starting from 15 May 2020 to ensure safe facilitation of crew changes takes place;
  2. That companies will consider, if financially viable and possible, to financially acknowledge every seafarer whose employment contract has expired, but who has continued to work;
  3. That companies will consider, if financially viable and possible, to provide seafarers waiting to be deployed an advance salary payment;
  4. That companies will, where possible, provide seafarers with extra bandwidth and internet access to be able to communicate with home; and
  5. That, when crew change commences, those seafarers who have been on-board the longest will be prioritised and repatriated first regardless of rank.

Finally the ITF and the JNG want to alert Flag States, P&I Clubs, Operators and Charterers that, in the event of the Framework of Protocols for Crew Change not taking effect by mid-June 2020, the consequence of stress related sickness affecting seafarers and their inability to consistently access medical support ashore may negatively impact on the commercial viability of the ship operations.                      

Jacqueline Smith, Maritime Coordinator, International Transport Workers' Federation

Francesco Gargiulo, JNG Joint Secretary & IMEC CEO                                                                                                            

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2 weeks 1 day ago

this is good move because seafarer onboard have no shore leave .
who finished their contract already they have mentally not good .it make more accedent it will be bad problem. please do it as early as

Robertito dela torre
2 weeks 1 day ago

Seafarers here want to go on board to earn a living.

2 weeks 1 day ago

How was it at US port ?
I mean my contact finish and 2 month past. Us coast guard want to direct flights for on signers and my country do not make any flights for a now at Houston we are sts lightering vessel our voyages increase as much now a days how long we stay on board ? That uncertainty thing we are dont know anything but how long we are stay on board And also How we gonna solve if us government do not allowed transit flights. What we can do for that ? We are great full for yours work thank you 🙏 hope middle of June we are go home. Best regards

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

1 week 1 day ago

I totally undsetanding your poisition. Even we try evey step to make crew change work , but the restriction on border, travel ban and unstable flight are hard to predict. I am really hoping IMO , ITF can work with globla govenments to issue speical permission for crew changes and gurantee their priorities of flight seats, not matter charter flight or shedule flights.

2 weeks 1 day ago

Great initiative.Hopefully will commence sign on, sign off around the globe.Its a time demand to give oxygen our beloved shipping Network.
Go ahead ITF & best of luck to all seafarers.

Capt acm
2 weeks 1 day ago

I have disembarked the other day 13 may with flite details on the 18. Sad to say my flites are cancelled and never know when they can book me. No food at the hotel and you have to buy your own food. If you dont have credit card, you will die from hunger rather than covid

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

1 week 1 day ago

I feel sorry and this is a big concerned! All you want is to going home, but the realities are resulting the unstable flights and city locktwon due to pandamic which makes life harder for foreign seaferers... This fraustrated that becasue even IMO and ITF have no such power to allocated airliesn and lockdown of different countries....

2 weeks 1 day ago

This is a very relieving move made by the organization. It enables us to go back and earn our living. But how will this address the medical certificates that were issued before the lockdown and the widespread of this pandemic that happened to be expired (May 2020) and are not used? Is there any extension for it or do they have to repeat again? This might take some time as medical centers will only accommodate fewer patients/persons a day due to ongoing pandemic. Anyhow thank you.

I saw myself in your cover photo, I don't remember if I send that photo or maybe a colleague of mine.

All the best!

teieru takaua karauna
2 weeks ago

no ,impact

Donald Seranilla
2 weeks ago

Please crew change make it possible , by June 15 , a another 1 month preparation for all manning and shipping company, it's good enough time. Especially for seafarers like me almost 10 months onboard oh my God i begging for crew change. We provide a complete PPE for crew going home for safety.

Chief Engineer
2 weeks ago

I am repatriated Last March 16 during lockdown in Phil. my contract supposed ends April 23, 2020. I explained to the Crewing Dept that I want to extend after my finish contract due to my COC will expire Oct 13, 2020. My request was not approved due to their company crew change plan. I am repatriated under contract at the time of lockdown.

1 week 6 days ago

I'm already pass 11 months onboard, next month will be one year, my contract is 3months overdue by then. Ship trade as of now is South africa after Chile. Im hoping that in Chile i can go home.

1 week 5 days ago

it's confirm the singoff star.because I already 12 month finished .please take action after June 15. otherwise the meaning company and owner take easy.
please do our singoff positively

1 week 5 days ago

Will Cruiseships like princess consider this agreement or recommendation?

Pawan choudhary
1 week 4 days ago

We are indian crew on board in saudi and our contract already finished, but still no news for our signoff so how we will go home safely, now we are very tired to work here we feel fatique so plz do something for offshore crew in saudi.

1 week 4 days ago

I lost my faith in everything what sailing and shipping industry is...or better say used to be, because in our time if the company or goverment can spare even 1 dollar they will throw you like a useless rag....our organizations.....people who stay in an office and just pass papers from left to right only for seafarers to say in their broken minds that everything will be ok.
12 steps of crew change....a big joke....if goverments will not start to make crew changes what will imo will do against them? Nothing ! How can shipping industry lose money if they ban for example China because they are not allowing crew changes...
Wake up people and think. Nothing will happen until 15 or if something will happen is not because they received a warning. In our times if you are a seafarer this means only one thing.... We are slaves!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ab Joe
1 week 4 days ago

Sad and very true in the same time

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

1 week ago

You are right. No choice

UDAI midathada
1 week 4 days ago

Good decision by IMO, BUT 90% of companies cannot follow this I think, the companies don't want to spend extra money for the crew change, they are sending 2+/-1 extension contract for crew. And say" we are closely monitoring the situation". Now I am almost 5 months, vsl reaching USA Jun 25, no news about any crew change, but company sending msg that they are planning for vetting at USA. This is how companies mind set is- pockets should fill but nothing should spill.
IMO is making good decision but who can check whether it is followed or not.
After 16 yrs at sea now I actually understood what a bad decision I made to come to sea. Seafarers are the most important part of link for world to run smoothly but they are the once least cared for.

1 week ago

Absolutely same just ignoring all mails belong to crew change and request for compensation. Their business is go on and they don't must be PSC but I'm not expecting any protection for crew. They are all deal together owners, IMO, governments and will serve them without respect to us.

UDAI midathada
1 week 4 days ago

I forget to tell my contract is for 3 months and 2nd engineer on VLCC

1 week 2 days ago

Working in the offshore industry of South America is very stressful it plays a very big role of crew members being fatigued and an even bigger one knowing that you have completed your time onboard such vessels and don't know when you are going home. Crew members have a life to. Some crew member are sometimes the only person that works in the family, they depend on just that one person in getting things done at home they have young kids that are expecting them home after a certain amount of time onboard. Due to the situation that we face today with the global pandemic, It can have a mental breakdowns on the crew members side and on the loved ones side at home . This is why most seamen are out here for be it sailing the world or be it working in the offshore industry is to provide for there loved ones. It is very hard to leave the ones you love and care about behind just to make some money to make ends meet, And for most companies to keep telling you that they monitoring the situation not even trying to charter a flight for does crew members to return to their families that is just heartless just to save on money but remember without the crew members you cant get it done .

1 week 1 day ago

Stop working on 15 June. Just want off, if we matter so much, they can get us home