seafarer sits alone on the deck of a rusty looking ship, wearing protective clothing for his job

ILO rules that governments have failed seafarers


Governments ignored MLC obligations and failed seafarers, the ILO has ruled

In a ruling that is the first of its kind, the International Labour Organisation has condemned governments for ignoring their obligations under the MLC, resulting in 400,000 sefarers being stranded at sea. There are almost the same number waiting at home to start work.

The ILO Committee of Experts ruled that governments around the world failed in their duty of care to provide seafarers with such basic rights as access to healthcare, repatriation, annual leave and shore leave during the COVID pandemic. 

The ruling follows months of work by the ITF and its affiliates, including the Norwegian Seafarers' Union. For more than a year, the ITF has been campaigning to get seafarers the label of 'key worker' to make sure that they can do their jobs safely and keep the global economy moving. This ruling is a positive step to fixing the problem and giving seafarers the status they deserve.

In a joint statement, ICS Secretary General, Guy Patten, and ITF General Secretary, Stephen Cotton, said:

"We welcome the intervention from the ILO Committee of Experts in spelling out how governments have failed in their criticised States for allowing the situation to persist for so long. But it also explains how we can fix this. This is one of the most direct and effective Experts' observations we've seen. Once again a roadmap has been laid out for how to resolve this humanitarian crisis and return to a normally functioning crew change system that the world's supply chains can rely on. It's up to governments to get on with implementing that roadmap and urgently prioritise seafarers as key workers for COVID-19 vaccines as a clear demonstration of compliance with this finding."

We expect governments will take action now and facilitate the travel of sefarers as essential workers, as well as respecting their rights, such as providing healthcare, leave and not extending contracts.

Respect the MLC.

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