Tuesday, an unanimous UN General Assembly voted to support the request that all countries define seafarers as key workers. Now we need words to turn into action.
On the 1st of December, the UN General assembly adopted a resolution called “International cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic to support global supply chains”. The assembly also called upon governments to facilitate maritime crew changes, including expediting travel and repatriation efforts and ensuring access to medical care.
We support the resolution wholeheartedly. For ten months, we have fought to be able to let our seafarers leave the ship when their contract has ended – and to let them join their vessel when their contract should start. We have begged the world’s countries to treat seafarers as what they are: essential to the world. Still, we have been forced to ask our colleagues to sign extended contracts. Some has stayed on board for as much as 13 months.
Thanks to the partnership with other companies, a few countries’ cooperation, and ingenuity in our crewing team, we have done much. By Christmas, Grieg Star will have close to no seafarers who have stayed on board for more than 11 months. We are still working to reduce the number of extended contracts.
But this may change quickly. Vaccines against Covid-19 will hopefully give us normality back. But that will not happen in quite a few months. In the meantime, we need the countries voting for that UN resolution to act accordingly. You said seafarers should be defined as key workers. You said all governments should facilitate crew changes. Give the world’s two million seafarers that as your Christmas present to them: Let them travel. Give them medical assistance. Treat them as what they are: essential to your health, welfare and prosperity.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said, “Sadly, hundreds of thousands of seafarers, who are vital to maintaining supply chains, remain stranded at sea for months beyond their contracted time. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable. I hope that this call to action will result in positive momentum to resolve the crew change crisis.”
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