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ICS and ITF call on G20 to support the “unsung heroes of global trade”

07 Apr 2020
Press Release

Covid-19 restrictions are storing up trouble for seafarers and global supply chains

LONDON - 7 APRIL 2020: The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport WorkersFederation (ITF) have issued a joint call on behalf of seafarers to governments to facilitate the essential movement of seafarers and marine personnel.

The letter from the shipownersorganisation and seafarers’ union to governments follows up on their dialogue with the G20, and the positive outcomes built on in the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers virtual meeting which took place on Monday, 30 March.

Guy Platten, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Shipping said:

The issue of crew changes has the potential to become a massive problem for the global economy if governments do not address our concerns. ITF and ICS have worked closely to come forward with pragmatic solutions for governments to work on and we stand ready to support the G20, the UN institutions and most importantly our seafarers. Seafarers are the unsung heroes of global trade but the current restrictions being put in place to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic are not sustainable.

Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport WorkersFederation said:

The maritime industry is calling on governments to show respect for seafarers and co-ordinate a global strategy with key stakeholders, including major airlines, to ease restrictions and facilitate the changeover of ships’ crews. ITF and ICS have grave concern for thousands of seafarers whose duty on board has ended but are forced to remain at sea for additional months due to current national travel restrictions. The current deadlock not only threatens seafarerspersonal health and wellbeing, but also increases the risk of marine accidents and jeopardises the global supply chains that are integral to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic. We call for immediate and co-ordinated global action to safely resume crew changes and the repatriation of seafarers in a manner that protects the health and safety, and ultimately the lives of seafarers.

The full letter to G20 leaders and ministers can be viewed online or downloaded here.

ICS: Duncan Bray, +44 (0) 208 638 8753 or
ITF: Luke Menzies, +61 433 889 844 or

Notes to Editors:

About ICS
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for merchant shipowners and operators, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet.

About the ITF
The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) is a democratic global union federation of 665 transport workers trade unions representing 20 million workers in 147 countries, nearly 200 of which represent over 650,000 seafarers spread across the world. The ITF works to improve the lives of transport workers globally, encouraging and organising international solidarity among its network of affiliates. The ITF represents the interests of transport workers' unions in bodies that take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions and safety in the transport industry.