By Mike Schuler
The International Transport Workers’ Federation is calling on A.P. Moller – Maersk to protect its seafarers and terminal workers from the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep supply chains moving.
In a statement ahead of Maersk’s annual general meeting on Monday, the ITF and its affiliates are asking that Maersk provides Personal Protective Equipment to its workers to guard against the transmission COVID-19. The ITF is also asking for full pay to be provided to workers who have come down with the virus or are required to go into self-isolation as a precaution.
The ITF is also pressuring governments to ensure safe crew changes as more and more seafarers are facing travel restrictions.
“Ships must be able to sail in order to ensure the export and import of vital goods and medicines, and for this to happen crew changes must be carried out while infection control measures are observed,” the ITF said in a statement on Modnay.
“Currently, the ITF is dealing every day with situations where seafarers cannot move freely to safely sign on and off ships. This is due to the increasing number of restrictions being placed by national governments on movements in and out of their country. Therefore, governments need to recognise the vital role of seafarers in this extraordinary crisis, and for them to be treated as ‘key workers’, regardless of nationality.”
“The ITF, and our maritime affiliates representing seafarers and dockers, are also asking flag states to take proper responsibility for the health and wellbeing of all workers and passengers onboard their vessels when there are cases of Covid-19, and this includes flags of convenience,” the ITF said.
The ITF is comprised of nearly 700 transport workers trade unions representing around 20 million workers, including seafarers, dockers, tug boat workers and inland transport workers.
Maersk last week suspended crew changes for its operated ships until April 14, 2020. At the end of 2019, Maersk’s fleet consisted of 307 owned and 401 chartered ships with a nominal TEU capacity of more than 4.1 million TEUs. The company also operates ports throughout the world through its APM Terminals affiliate.