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International bodies form Action Group to protect workers’ rights

The omicron variant stressed more efforts are needed to protect crew’s well-being

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) will form an Action Group with major international transport bodies to protect crew’s rights amidst the spread of the omicron variant.

Seafarers’ rights remain paramount
Ever since Omicron’s declaration as a variant of concern, over 56 countries tightened their border restrictions – severely impacting supply chains. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), along with other organisations pleaded for government measures to avoid restricting transport workers’ movements. WHO’s Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and ILO’s Director-General Guy Ryder have confirmed their organisations will form an Action Group with other transport bodies to ensure freedom of movement for international workers, including that of seafarers’.

Apart from working on issuing a medical passport to workers as proof of vaccination, the Action Group will ensure the implementing of existing travel protocols to protect transport workers’ rights. Both bodies also confirmed that the United Nations’ Secretary General’s Executive Committee will discuss further solutions in January 2022 on issues raised by the transport agencies.

Dr Ghebreyesus from WHO stressed, “The pandemic is an international emergency that continues to adversely impact global health, trade and travel. Protecting the health of transport workers and maintaining travel operations for emergency and humanitarian missions, essential personnel, repatriations, and cargo transport of essential supplies is of critical importance.”

Guy Ryder from ILO, said, “The workers face immense, ongoing pressures and difficulties arising from the pandemic. I am pleased we have established a Joint Action Group that will review the impact of the COVID-19 on those workers, and encourage governments to apply internationally agreed protocols and standards.”

Guy Platten, ICS’ Secretary General added: “We need governments to protect their health and safety if they want a normal holiday season. It is worrying to see last year’s draconian travel restrictions reappear in many countries, as millions of crew made enormous sacrifices for scant recognition for nearly 2 years. It is promising to see the WHO and ILO take leadership on protecting workers’ rights.”

Stephen Cotton, ITF’s General Secretary concurred, “As we enter peak season for transport workers, it is critical that we alleviate the strain on our global supply chains. We thank the WHO and ILO for their commitment to work with us, and urge all governments to prioritise vaccinations and allow workers’ free and safe movements. If we are serious about breaking the cycle of lockdowns and travel bans, governments must reciprocate by blocking the vaccines’ intellectual property waivers and other related barriers to end this crisis.”

Crewing Online News Team
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