LADOL Free Zone is the only Nigerian company among 327 companies and organizations including Grimaldi Group, CMA CGM, COSCO, Hapag-Lloyd, Harren & Partner, AP Moller-Maersk, Airports Council International, International Transport Workers Federation, Shell, and BP in the global maritime industry and aviation industry that signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.
The signatories to the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change, an initiative led by the Global Maritime Forum to overcome the seafarer crisis – changes and repatriation which COVID-19 has made impossible, are expected to use their leverage to end the deepening crew change crisis. The signatories are to deliver on a shared responsibility to resolve a crisis that has seen hundreds of thousands of the world’s seafarers pushed into what amounts to forced labour
However, the General Secretary of the International Workers’ Federation (ITF) Stephen Cotton has welcomed the commitments of the 327 companies and organisations that signed the Neptune Declaration, an initiative led by the Global Maritime Forum.
“The ITF welcomes the commitment from ship owners, charterers, investors, NGOs and industry groups in signing the Neptune Declaration, and now there is an expectation that words are turned into action,” said Cotton.
“With the rise of new variants of COVID, we are sadly seeing governments backsliding and bringing in more restrictions. Right now is the time for every CEO, every board member, of every company that relies on global shipping, to demand that governments don’t forget the key workers driving their economies and unblock their borders to seafarers before this crisis gets worse.
“Companies must now be held to account. This means no more charter parties with ‘no crew change’ clauses: charterers must work with ship owners to facilitate crew changes. This means investors asking the companies they own and deal with what the companies are doing to address the crisis. And this means asking why any company in the industry didn’t sign this declaration,” said Cotton.
According to the Neptune Declaration, “the Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crew change crisis which has led to hundreds of thousands of seafarers being impacted and in many instances left stranded on ships1, beyond the expiry of their contracts. Despite significant efforts by international organizations, governments, industry associations, labor unions, NGOs and individual companies including the adoption on 1 December 2020 by the UN General Assembly of a resolution on international cooperation to address challenges faced by seafarers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to support global supply chains2, the issue is still far from resolved.
“This is not an acceptable way to treat seafarers, who are the frontline workers of the maritime industry carrying 90% of global trade. Fatigue after extended periods at sea has significant consequences on the physical and mental wellbeing of seafarers. It also increases the risk of maritime incidents and environmental disasters and poses a wider threat to the integrity of global supply chains, which depend on safe and reliable maritime transport.
“This is why a task force of stakeholders from across the maritime value chain has identified the following key issues preventing crew changes that require urgent action: while high-quality health protocols have been adopted internationally, they have not been consistently implemented in practice. This has led authorities to perceive seafarers as a Covid-19 risk, which has limited the possibilities of crew changes.
•Implementing high-quality crew change protocols will reduce the economic risk of disrupted supply chains but will lead to increased short-term costs. The disruption of international air travel has reduced the number of flights, causing connectivity issues between major crew change hubs and major seafaring nations, which has complicated crew changeovers.”
Taking action to deliver on their shared responsibility, the companies and organizations pledged thus “We, the signatories to The Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change, recognize that we have a shared responsibility to ensure that the current crew change crisis is resolved as soon as possible and to use the learning from the crisis as an opportunity to build a more resilient maritime supply chain.
“We believe that the most effective way of addressing the crew change challenge and building a more resilient maritime logistics chain is by working together across the value chain with industry stakeholders, organizations and with governments to implement solutions that work in practice.
“Therefore, we commit to take action to resolve the crew change crisis, based on our position and role in the value chain, thereby ensuring the rights and wellbeing of the seafarers supporting global supply chains. We call on our peers and other stakeholders, in particular relevant government bodies, to join us in our efforts.”