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ILO, IMO and ICAO urge governments to act on crew change, ‘key worker’ status

28 May 2020

The leaders of the world’s highest maritime, aviation and labour authorities have issued a joint statement calling on governments to facilitate maritime crew changes and designate the millions of workers in critical transport industries through the present pandemic as ‘key workers’.

Fang Liu (International Civil Aviation Organization), Kitack Lim (International Maritime Organization) and Guy Ryder (International Labour Organization) say that the aviation and maritime transport sectors, along with fisheries industry, are too important to global supply chains to have any disruption caused by government restrictions preventing crew change and travel.

“Our three Organizations seek to ensure that seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, offshore energy sector personnel, aviation personnel, air cargo supply chain personnel, service provider personnel at airports and ports are designated as ‘key workers’, regardless of nationality, to exempt them from travel restrictions, to ensure their access to emergency medical treatment and, if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation,” said the leaders.

The international bodies also urged governments to remove restrictions stopping crew from disembarking from ships in port. Currently, many transport workers cannot transit through a territory to an airport or other transport hub for a crew change and repatriation home. They say repatriation flights must be sped up.

We are seeking the support of Governments to facilitate crew changes, operations essential to maintain the global cargo supply chains and operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights. For humanitarian reasons – and the need to comply with international safety and employment regulations – crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely,” they said.

Governments have been encouraged to grant all seafarers, fishers, offshore energy workers, and aviation and airports workers exemptions from national travel- and health-related restrictions in order to facilitate the resumption of crew changes on ships and aircraft, and in airports and cargo facilities. 

The call adds pressure on governments to act urgently on maritime crew changes. Approximately 200,000 seafarers are currently stuck on board vessels across the world, unable to relieved by fresh crew due to the Covid-19 restrictions brought in by governments across the world.

The 16th of June is looming as the deadline given by the ITF and maritime employers for governments to implement the IMO protocols that would make crew changes possible.

The ITF has warned that the restrictions must be removed to avoid any shutdown in global trade.

Click here to see the full Joint Statement which includes further details on the specific actions needed by governments.

To support the campaign for a crew change, you can sign the Seafarers Matter Petition here:

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Chief Officer
2 years 8 months ago

We are slaves ! IMO and ITF are you blind ? Only one way to respect seafarers- to STOP all vessels !

2 years 7 months ago

I agree for that..
Africa is completly out, why??

2 years 8 months ago

Words,words,words.... useless

2 years 8 months ago

Words,words,words.... useless

Thiyagarajan Kam
2 years 8 months ago

Let see your show after Jun 15

2 years 8 months ago

Oh!!!! What will you do on 16.06.20? Will you make one more guidenance that can be used as toilet paper? Deadline or deathline?

2 years 8 months ago

Hope action is taken soonest, crew members onboard are getting restless, which may hamper critical operations and lead to hunan casualities. Our ship is stuck in panana- with master completing 9 month ( contract was for 4 month) and 2 crew completing 13months (contract was for 9month) . Ship name LIKA TOKYO , MANAGERS ARKA MARINE GLOBAL SRRVICES LLC, DUBAI

Master of disaster
2 years 8 months ago

there is no future!

IMO recommends…. has no power against others than Owners and Seamen and overregulates our
professional life in the name of SOLAS, MARPOL, and other convention, detoured to fill up their
pockets with dirty money. They release all this from the Pandora box of their greed and made place for all
the abuse we are experiencing by governments officials when Vsl.'s goes alongside. Even
the MLC, the hope, is turned against us and now scrapped by mostly all governments in the name of fighting against a diesis which keels about 5 % of the infested persons.
The lockdown leads to famine and will push the people to fight for survival.This lead to war and genocide. Not 5%, but 95% of population may die and lets the Global leaders to live and rule forever, over an ease to control, limited numbers of slaves.

For us: an extra check list and a risk assessment, with the fear of loosing our place of work is doing the rest.

We must go home and strive to survive or die , along with our families.

We are already on Japanese strike.
Next will do it Italian , that means "pole-pole"....
Furthermore ,I will stop the Vsl. for few hrs. , and go angling;
strike against Mondial Governments Syndicates of crimes against Humanity.
And so on , I will stop for 1 day, and so far..... up to cold store is full of fish.

There is nothing to loose, there is no future and this is not life.

We need the seamen's key workers status now, with the
support of all entities doing profit from shipping, or they
will pay the bill.

This industry is nothing without us and telegraph is on our hands.

1 year 1 month ago

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2 years 8 months ago

I am a Cadet from China. Now I have been working at sea for more than 12 months. I really want to go home and reunite with my family We seamans have made a tremendous contribution to the world, and we ask the world to give us seamans the most basic dignity

Chief Officer
2 years 8 months ago

The only way to make these countries listen is not to call these ports anymore with ships. If they are all afraid of crew Changes, we better avoid delivering anything with countries refusing Crew changes. That is the only solution. Nothing else will work. Once they realize that supermarkets are getting empty they will know what we do for them.

2 years 8 months ago

Do you believe it?? They will not do nothing. It dirty and corrupted world! They all have they parts and seafarers are slaves. All industry is based on us but we can't refuse work because nobody protect us. It really that solas,marpol,imo are increasing just pressure on crew with their demands and no improving for us. No mlc, no Itf, no life with our family's it's what we deserved by our hard's big shame!

2 years 8 months ago

I would urge IMO to stop all the vessels for 24 hours and let's see what reaction comes out from the world. Understanding must always be to and fro.

2 years 7 months ago

My father suffered a paralysis attack and in hospital ...cannt go home to take care of my father n family...
Plz facilitate more charter flights...and make more pressure on shipping company is not doing anythjng for sign off for the crew....they are only intending to save money of crew change.....other companies are doing creq change by charter flights they are keeping us as captive on the excuse of covid_19