Seafarer and employers group calls time on crew changes

15 May 2020

An influential group of seafarers' representatives and owners have called time on extensions to crew contracts and urged countries to step up crew changes and repatriation.

The Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) said that the suspension of crew changes was no longer feasible. Further contract extensions would be detrimental to seafarer mental health and wellbeing, and would put their safety and the safety of ships and the environment at risk.

Governments will have 30 days until June 15 to implement safe crew change protocols set out by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

'Seafarers' fatigue should not be underestimated,' JNG partners said in a joint letter signed by ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith and JNG joint secretary and IMEC CEO Francesco Gargiulo.   

'The consequences of stress-related sickness on seafarers and their inability to consistently access medical support ashore may negatively impact on the commercial viability of the ship operations.'

The JNG agreed to support:

  • a 30-day transition period for crew changes
  • seafarers who continue to work beyond expired contracts should be financially compensated
  • seafarers waiting to be deployed should be given advanced salary payments
  • seafarers should be provided with extra bandwidth and internet access while onboard
  • crew that have been onboard longest will be prioritized for repatriation regardless of rank

The JNG is made up of the International Maritime Employers Council (IMEC), International Mariners Management Association of Japan, Korean Shipowners Association, Evergreen, and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) representing 215 maritime unions and their 1m members.

Read more:

The IMO document - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic

For further information and guidance on COVID-19, please see the IMO's dedicated coronavirus pages

IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Nautilus members who are concerned or are experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak are advised to contact their industrial organiser for assistance. In an emergency, members can also contact the Nautilus 24/7 helpline.

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