Prior to the sars coronavirus pandemic, there were about 100 000 crew changes each month, with a sailor at sea to be exchanged for another to come on board, said Esben Poulsson, chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping.
Today, the number of crew changes is around 20 000 to 30 000 each month, Poulsson said.
“At this moment, there are 200,000 seafarers who need to go home and there are 200,000 people of the sea sitting at home need to go to the board of directors to replace those going home,” Poulsson said CNBC’s ” View of the Box of Asia “, on Tuesday.
According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), seafarers generally work between four to six months on the ship before a period of leave. At sea, they work 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days per week.
“Enough is enough “
The various stakeholders have lobbied hard for the governments to allow crew changes and were designated as key or essential workers, many are still stuck in the sea.
The International Transport workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliated unions, said earlier this month that it’s going to help the sailors to “exercise their right to stop work, leave the ship, and return to the home” when their contracts are up.
“If the fact of having seafarers from these ships causes chaos in the supply chain, if the ports of return to Singapore to San Francisco, and if this causes the ship insurance providers to get the coverage and the global trade to grind to a halt; so that it is on the head of politicians, not in the world of seafarers,” ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton said in a statement explicit. “The people of the sea have done our part in this pandemic, and much more. Enough is enough, ” he added.
Approximately 80% of the volume of world trade is done via commercial vessels transporting bulk goods in containers and energy petroleum products.
Limited crew changeovers, well-being, safety, mental health and well-being of the people of the sea are being compromised.
“The seafarers are on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of essential goods, such as food, drugs and medical supplies,” said the IMO. “However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for seafarers, including the uncertainties and difficulties regarding the access to the port, re-supply, crew changes and repatriation. ”
A German company oil tanker that refused to sail, unless the replacement crew could be brought in, according to a recent Financial Times report citing industry leaders and union representatives.
Governments must intervene
While there have been reports of seafarers downing tools, most of them work in the context of the extension of a contract and to be paid for the work, ” said Poulsson.
But “we have a potential humanitarian and, therefore, the trade crisis on our hands and that is not an exaggeration,” said Poulsson.
The IMO is to put pressure on governments to designate people of the sea as ” key workers “, a position that has been approved by the secretary-general of the United Nations.
Some governments are beginning to allow crew changes in the ports, subject to strict rules such as quarantine zones.
Singapore, a shipping hub, is one of the countries that facilitated crew changes. The city-state’s maritime and Port Authority said on 12 June that he had approved 4 000 crew of the authentication and signatures, involving 500 ships of over 300 companies from 27 March to 12 June.
But more needs to be done — and at a faster pace, ” said Poulsson.
“What this need is a true cut-the-bureaucracy, cut all the chit chat and get on with the job of dealing with the situation,” he said.
The governments must “take the people of the sea of workers of essential services, and indeed, they are of value, cut of visa restrictions and increase the sustainable travel options, so that we can increase the number of crew changes,” said Poulsson.