European Maritime Social Partners call for Ministers of Health to assist in ensuring crew changes can take place in EU ports

12 Jun 2020

Today ECSA and its social partner, the European Transport Workers' Federation (ETF), called on EU Ministers for Health, to assist in the implementation of the IMO protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes in the EU Member States’ ports without further delay.

In view of the video conference of the Ministers of Health held today, the European social partners for maritime transport, ECSA and the ETF, drew the attention of the EU Health Ministers to the importance of ensuring that seafarers are able to join and leave their ships with as few impediments as possible, in order to keep essential supplies moving and ensure the health, safety and welfare of seafarers. They highlighted in particular the crucial role of national health services in protecting the health of seafarers in transit.

The letter underlined the huge problem many seafarers face by not being able to leave their ships and return home due to travel restrictions; whereas, the absence of facilities to obtain visas to enter the Schengen area further prevents them from joining their ships. Therefore, the maritime social partners reiterated their call on all EU Member States to implement the IMO protocols and guidelines for crew changes without delay in order to ensure crew changes, medical care and shore leave for seafarers happen in their ports.

“Health Ministers undoubtedly play a central role, alongside Transport and Interior Ministers, in national efforts to implement the IMO protocols in Member States. We strongly urge EU Health Ministers to co-operate with other government departments in their Member States and throughout the Union. The movement of seafarers and crew changes in their ports must be facilitated under conditions that safeguard their health and minimize the risks to them of Covid-19 infection,’’ commented Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General. 

“We call on all EU Member States to lead by example and to ensure that all EU Member States implement the IMO protocols to ensure crew changes in EU ports without further delay and seafarers’ rights are upheld. Further delays will have severe consequences for the safety and physical and mental health of seafarers, in addition to the safety of ship operations and the functioning of the global waterborne supply chains,’’ Martin Dorsman added. 

Click here to download the joint letter by ECSA and the ETF dated 12 June 2020.