COVID-19: Czech union action relieves seafarers’ worries

24 Apr 2020


Recently, the Czech Ministry of Transport adopted extraordinary measures concerning Czech seafarers, setting up a system for temporary prolongation of expiring crew documents.

Repatriation options have been limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and seafarers often stay on board longer than planned. Their documents expire in the meantime. Many seafarers that are currently on board and possess Czech qualification documents have found themselves in a difficult situation because of the restrictions on movement put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Others, who are home, were supposed to go to trainings to renew their qualification and certificates in naval academies abroad. This is also currently not possible due to restrictions on travelling. The new measures clearly address a problem that the restrictions have caused for seafarers and take one of their worries off their minds.

The issue was clear – the travel bans put in place not only restricted seafarers‘ repatriation but also their access to authorised bodies who can issue official documents.

To get the measure in place swiftly, though, the work of unions was key. Czech Trade Union of Seafarers has been in contact with the Ministry of Transport from the beginning of the crisis. Reacting to the information they’ve been getting from their members, the union informed the ministry that they need to react and act fast. The union also supported the ministry in the creation of measures by providing them with guidance issued by the International Maritime organisation.

They’ve built the relationship through years of social dialogue, with the union consistently representing the interest of Czech seafarers. Consistent union work has paid off and made this extraordinary situation easier for seafarers.