Skip to main content

Maersk praised over pandemic, but unions urge follow-through on labour standards

news 23 Mar 2021

Workers have just handed the world’s the largest container shipping company a report card for the last year – and there’s room for improvement.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) delivered its annual statement to AP Møller-Mærsk’s Annual General Meeting, which is being held in Copenhagen today with a handful of attendees. Most shareholders joined the meeting via video link.

The ITF, whose affiliated unions represent tens of thousands of Maersk workers across the globe, said the company should be praised for its efforts to see crew regularly changed onboard its ships through the difficulties of the present ‘crew change crisis’ caused by government border, travel and transit restrictions.

“Maersk has done an extraordinary job in leading the industry on crew change,” said ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith. “While we’ve had a world of trouble with some charterers and the less scrupulous shipping companies passing the buck and refusing to help pay to end seafarers’ suffering, AP Møller-Mærsk stepped up and has shown regular crew change can be done.”

Smith said the ITF worked with Maersk around the world throughout the last year on Covid-related health and safety and remuneration issues.

“Our ongoing relationship with Maersk is about us pushing each other to be the best versions of ourselves. We know that Maersk can be an even stronger global leader in shipping and transport by working with us to address areas where their local practice hasn’t matched their global commitments.”

Smith said that Maersk seriously risked its reputation among workers as a responsible corporate citizen when it chose to engage with ICTSI’s Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) in Melbourne last year.

Smith asked why the shipping giant continues to do business with the controversial terminal company, even after unions found it to be a ‘Port of Convenience’ for undermining Australian collective agreements.

“Maersk traditionally has good policies on paper and in the expectations it sets out for its suppliers, so we are surprised that the company seems to have developed a blindspot when it comes to upholding collective bargaining at Australia’s most aggressively anti-union container terminal.”

“Maersk signed up to the UN Global Compact and its support for collective bargaining. We need to see that same commitment applied by Maersk throughout its supply chain, whether workers are directly employed with them or not.”

“We ask Maersk to uphold its values and avoid VICT until the terminal and its parent company ICTSI end their hostility to workers and our rights. We will be raising this issue with Maersk leadership in coming weeks,” said Smith.



Related: ITF Statement to AP Møller-Mærsk’s Annual General Meeting | 23 March 2021 (DK)

Photos: A headshot is available of Jacqueline Smith here

About the ITF: The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice for nearly 20 million working women and men in the transport industry across the world.

Media contact:           media[at]    +44 20 7940 9282

A Danish language version of this release is available on request.