Nautilus International, the Union for maritime professionals, has welcomed a ruling by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) that found governments have breached seafarers’ rights and failed to comply with several provisions of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The landmark ruling from the ILO, the first of its kind, sent a strong message to governments that they have failed in their duty of care towards seafarers under international law, including basic rights such as access to healthcare, repatriation, annual leave and shore leave.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'The ILO Committee of Experts has sent a welcome and an unequivocal message to states that have ratified the MLC - there are no longer any excuses for denying seafarers their rights to repatriation, shore leave, and access to medical care ashore.
'The Committee has urged states to coordinate with each other to effectively implement and enforce the fundamental rights of seafarers and has requested that Port States ensure seafarers rights are fully complied with.
'On the back of the call for action by the ILO Governing Body and a resolution of the UN General Assembly we need governments to unlock crew changes without any further delay to resolve this humanitarian crisis. Let’s get our seafarers home for Christmas.'
Nautilus has campaigned at national and international fora to resolve the crew change crisis brought about by government’s travel bans and covid restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are trapped at sea unable to be relieved, and many more at home without access to work onboard.
The Union launched its Crew Change for Christmas Campaign on December 1, which calls for as many crew changes as possible to take place throughout December to deliver seafarers home for Christmas.
The full ILO Committee of Experts finding can be viewed here.