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ITF: Recognise seafarers' contribution during Covid or risk labour supply shortages

15 September 2021

The global maritime industry could face a labour supply shortage if it does not recognise the contributions of seafarers during the pandemic and work to ensure their right to repatriation and shore leave, according to International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) general secretary Steve Cotton. 

Mr Cotton described a heightened sense of anxiety reported by seafarers from the stress of regional and country wide lockdowns at the London International Shipping Week (LISW) main conference.

'Throughout the pandemic we have also seen a lack of respect for seafarers with many governments not understanding how seafaring works. When you shut down borders that creates a sense of isolation for those aboard ships,' he said.

The primary issues reported by seafarers to ITF are feelings of anxiety during covid and the stigma of not being able to support their family, while 73% identified feeling tired from being stuck onboard away from family, in the same routine day after day, without the opportunity to take shore leave.

Mr Cotton reminded attendees that roughly 100,000 seafarers remain onboard ships over their contractual obligations.

'It is critical that governments understand the importance of seafarers who drive the supply chain, and feed our economies.' He said. 'Individual countries have tried to help, but frankly it isn’t enough.'


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