ITF welcomes Australia move on crew changes

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on Wednesday November 18th welcomed the announcement by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) that on February 28th 2021 it would be ending temporary exemptions for vessels to have seafarers onboard for longer than the 11 months maximum stipulated by the International Labour Organisation’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The ITF called on other countries to do the same. There are an estimated 400,000 seafarers stranded at sea, unable to get home thanks to pandemic travel restrictions. About 100,000 seafarers a month need to embark or disembark to stop the situation getting worse.

ITF seafarers’ and inland navigation section coordinator Fabrizio Barcellona said that, given that governments and shippers had been dealing with Covid-19 since the beginning of the year, it was about time that regulators, government and shipowners and their managers began to respect the rights and welfare of seafarers.

“Port state controls need to get back to doing their job and upholding seafarers’ rights,” he said

While welcoming the AMSA decision, he said that it was “only the start” of the actions necessary by port states “to help resolve the crew change crisis and set clear expectations for the global shipping industry.”

Barcellona proposed that Australia and other governments coordinate their policy on seafarers across federal agencies and state governments by introducing green lanes to get seafarers safely and efficiently to and from airports to ships.