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International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) warns against impulse assumption of negligence

Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

Suez Canal’s traffic returning starts a string of speculations on possible causes to the accident

While ships scurry to make up for lost time from the recent blockage, the world’s typical reaction to any marine incidents is to speculate along the lines of crew negligence. David Heindel, chair of ITF’s Seafarers’ Section pointed out a full investigation is required to establish if crew fatigue or other issues contributed to the vessel’s stranding.

A call to pause speculating
“Too often, seafarers are unfairly blamed for sea incidents. Let’s not rush to judgment until all facts are laid bare. An open and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding this should be conducted; drawing on necessary input and expertise from the crew and their unions. When proper investigations are conducted, we are able to stand back and see the systematic factors that drive bad outcomes,” Heindel elaborated.

Heindel revealed the federation’s initial belief was high winds drove the ship aground. However, there were unconfirmed reports and theories of suspected engine failure. Championing for seafarers’ positive perception, Heindel said, “My hope is this highly-publicised event at the world’s busiest waterway can spotlight seafarers’ daily sacrifices. They need our support regardless of being stranded at Suez, or actively delivering 90 per cent of everything at your local port or not released after staying beyond their contracts.”

Stephen Cotton, ITF’s general secretary rejoiced for those who escaped another round of extended voyages. “We welcome news of Ever Given’s freeing and resumed traffic at Suez Canal. ITF wants to acknowledge the tireless efforts of the workers’ onboard tug boats and towage vessels, plus those performing critical groundworks to facilitate the resolution.

Acknowledge their contributions instead
Lobbying for seafarers’ recognition, Cotton noted the recent operation revealed the importance of tugboats for several stranded vessels. “We express our solidarity with the seafarers, onboard Ever Given or queuing cargo ships. They were expected to sustain the economic functions through ensuring food and supplies are distributed, and deal with this blockage,” he stressed.

Apart from rerouting and incurring more than $800,000 of fuel costs, seafarers had to cope with a 26-day extension to their voyage. Cotton highlighted, “Seafarers had to deal with denied shore leave and medical assistance arising from closed borders since 2020. The last thing they need is addition to their journeys onboard.” Despite confirming Ever Given’s crew were still within contractual period, he anticipated companies to attempt recouping costs incurred from the accident by deferring crew change.


ITF Seafarers

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