March 29 ------ The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has called on Danish shipping giant Maersk to “show responsibility” for all its workers in the company’s extended supply chain at sea and ashore amid the coronavirus pandemic. The ITF made a statement to the AP Moller Maersk annual general meeting following up its calls for action in the wider transport industries during the COVID-19 crisis. “The ITF and its affiliates represent seafarers, dockers, tug boat workers and inland transport workers within Maersk. They have called on the company to ensure they have in place Personal Protective Equipment to guard against the transmission risks of COVID-19,” the intergovernmental organization said.
What is more, ITF asked for “full pay to be provided in the unfortunate instances that the virus is caught by any worker, or should that worker have to go into self-isolation as a precaution.” As explained, 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.
Currently, the organization 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 recognize the vital role of seafarers in this extraordinary crisis, and treat them as ‘key workers’, regardless of nationality, the ITF stressed. “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.”
In its statement to the Maersk AGM the ITF also reiterated its concern in respect of Maersk Line’s business operations with the Melbourne port of convenience. These issues have been identified, and the ITF has advised the company that it expects “a constructive and committed ongoing dialogue to resolve them.” Separately, the ITF also called on both governments and employers to immediate action in protecting workers vital to the COVID-19 response and maintaining sustainable supply chains.