ITF To Assist Seafarers To Stop Working, Leave Ships And Return Home

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and its affiliated seafarers’ unions will now assist hundreds of thousands of seafarers to exercise their right to stop working, leave ships, and return home.

The new approach, which could be highly disruptive to global trade, comes after insufficient action by governments to designate seafarers as ‘key workers’, exempt them from Covid-19 travel restrictions and facilitate the repatriation of around 200,000 seafarers who have been caught up in the crew change crisis, said ITF Seafarers’ Section Chair Dave Heindel.

“We are sending a very strong message to seafarers: you have selflessly extended and extended your contracts to do your part to keep critical supplies flowing around the world during this pandemic,”

Image Credits:

“Some seafarers have been onboard for more than a year, and over the course of this pandemic, many have been prevented by governments from coming ashore even for a walk and alarmingly refused emergency medical care. Frankly, we have seafarers killing themselves at the prospect of this misery continuing without end. They call them ‘floating prisons’. This situation is intolerable to the ITF family,” said Heindel

ITF President and Dockers’ Section chair Paddy Crumlin reiterated the repeated warnings given to governments from unions and industry of this unfolding humanitarian crisis: “We have urged them on the consequences of tired, fatigued, depressed crew – to trade, to the environment. We have worked with industry and the international community to offer solutions.”

“But enough is enough. We have to draw a line in the sand and today is the day that we make it crystal clear to governments, that from June 16, seafarers are going to start enforcing their right to stop working and to return home. No more contract extensions.” said Crumlin.

ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton said all that governments need to do is make practical exceptions to coronavirus restrictions, and allow these key workers to transit through their territories and return to their families. A few small changes by national governments would allow seafarers to get home, and be relieved by a fresh crew, he said.

“If a seafarers wants off a ship, then the ITF, our affiliated unions and the ITF inspectorate will do everything we can to assist them. We fully expect port state authorities in all countries where ships dock to honour their obligations under the Maritime Labour Convention to get these seafarers safely home. That is their legal obligation,”

“If getting seafarers off these ships causes chaos in supply chains, if ports back up from Singapore to San Francisco, and if this causes ship insurance providers to pull their coverage and global trade to grind to a halt; then that is on the heads of politicians, not the world’s seafarers,”

“Seafarers have done our part in this pandemic, and plenty more. Enough is enough,” said Steve Cotton.


Latest Shipping News


  1. Is zis apply for crew working on cruise ship,as the government of some country are giving hard time to some of us

  2. At ground all zero
    Nothing in practical we are all in fear and working in corona environment ITF help is virtual

  3. Hello sir am a Mauritian seafarer if possible you can help us to return home we are many seafarers around the world
    Our government ask companies to paid our ticket and quarantine $1300 per head respectively
    So this is retarding companies to sent us home
    For some company will be a big amount of for this crucial time
    And our government bring only 150 person it took long time
    We are our best to fight with our government but in vain
    So sir if someone could help us to return home it will be very happy to everyone

  4. Unless government’s allow international travel and resume flights any action on the part of seafarers will only impact their lives adversely. ITF and PSC’s should conduct ship inspections and detain ships with crew on extended contract until repatriated thereby blocking berths with idle ships st berth might eventually force the hands of government authorities to reconsider their policy towards covid 19 travel restrictions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *