Seafarers, we know that you, your loved ones, and your friends have had enough.
You have the right to return home. While many countries have slowly started to ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions after 2-3 months of lockdown and are now reopening stores and services and allowing people to meet friends and families, hundreds of thousands of seafarers (you) worldwide remain stuck on board, unable to go ashore, seek medical attention or return home.
Many of you were on board for 6-10 months and now an additional 2-3 months because you had to extend your contracts due to travel restrictions and a lack of flights. Despite all the support from the shipping industry and the United Nations and their agencies, you continue to be treated as second class citizens. You are the same seafarers that governments have hailed as “key workers” vital to the global supply chain and the delivery of essential materials and goods.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and our member unions have forewarned governments and the industry that after today, the 15 June 2020, that it will no longer be acceptable that seafarers are forced to continue to work.
If you have finished your contract, then you have the right to be repatriated. If this is not possible then you would remain on board as a passenger. The consequences could be that the ship is unable to sail if the manning level is inadequate, but that is not the responsibility of the seafarers.
We are clear – if a seafarer wants off a ship, then the ITF, our affiliate unions and the ITF inspectorate will do everything we can to assist them. We know that you need to get off these ships, and we will help you to do so where can.
You have done your job, performed your duties, and accepted that you were unable to return home in the beginning in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 – but no more. Enough is enough.