Trade unions and employers associations in the maritime industry – both at international and EU level – have been calling on States throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to recognise seafarers as ‘key workers’. This to ensure their travel is facilitated, thereby making crew changes, repatriations and medical assistance possible. They have equally called upon States to include seafarers within the priority groups for vaccination in view of their key function in keeping global trade moving.
Governments, shipowners and seafarers groups are meeting this week in the Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006) to exchange information on the implementation of the MLC – also known as Seafarers’ Bill of Rights – in the face of the challenges posed by the pandemic.
On this occasion, ECSA and ETF – the European Social Partners for the Maritime Transport sector – have issued a Joint Statement on the recognition of seafarers as ‘key workers’.
In particular, in view of the absence of a universal definition of the ‘key worker’ term, the European Social Partners believe that it is more beneficial to focus attention on the specific rights and entitlements that seafarers should enjoy everywhere. The proposed non-exhaustive list of rights aims at assisting Member States in ensuring the health and wellbeing of maritime professionals as they perform their key function.