Coronavirus impact on seafarers could lead to large numbers quitting the industry
Maritime Professionals’ Union, Nautilus International has stepped up efforts to end the Covid-19 crew change crisis as research shows nearly 90% of British seafarers have been affected by the pandemic and one in two is now considering their future in the industry.
Nautilus is calling for governments and industry to work together to facilitate as many crew changes as possible throughout December to ‘deliver seafarers home for Christmas’, as some crew members face a second Christmas away from home.
On December 1 the Union will launch a new petition, calling on governments and the United Nations to work together to ensure that seafarers are designated as key workers in every country, and allow global crew changes to take place.
An estimated 400,000 seafarers from across the globe are now stranded on ships, continuing to work but unable to be relieved, in a crew change crisis which threatens trade and maritime safety.
Research by the Union revealed that nearly 90% of British seafarers have been directly impacted by the crew change crisis, with issues including being stranded at sea due to lack of crew change, stranded at home unable to join vessel, having their pay and conditions cut, and job losses.
Since the outset of the pandemic, the Union has been inundated with requests for support and advice, and many members have highlighted the impact of the crisis, whether they have been trapped at sea or unable to join their ship.
One member said: ‘Being a seafarer for 42 years did not prepare me for the mental stress of having a Covid-19 susceptible partner back home completely isolated and alone for five months. I was only expected to be away for eight weeks.’
Another said: ‘I was stuck at home for over seven months with no salary. I had to borrow money from my family and sell personal belongings to survive.’
While the wife of a seafarer still trapped at sea told the Union: ‘My husband is currently at sea, having done twice his contracted time. He is now suffering with anxiety and I am extremely worried about him. He has no way of getting help via telephone, decent nutritional meals, a care package or human contact.’
Commenting, Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said:
‘Our members work hard to supply food, medicines – and presents – to UK households. They often do so without much acknowledgement or public recognition.
‘This year, the coronavirus pandemic has given rise to unprecedented levels of stress, fatigue and safety concerns due to countries closing their borders and preventing them from seeing loved ones. Now many UK seafarers are left re-considering their very future in the industry.
‘Normally at this time of year we remind people that seafarers deliver them Christmas. This year we are calling on everyone to deliver seafarers home for Christmas.’