Shipowners and seafarers’ representatives have asked the United Nations to establish an interagency task force to examine the implementation and practical application of the MLC, 2006 during the pandemic, including its impact on seafarers’ fundamental rights and on the shipping industry.
The crew change crisis peaked at over 400,000 seafarers trapped on ships working beyond their contracts because of local Covid restrictions and the failure of governments to cooperate and coordinate to address the crisis.
The number of seafarers still stranded is around 200,000 and is on the rise again as authorities respond to new variants and explosions in cases like the devastating second wave currently tearing through India. While some governments have responded well, designating seafarers as key workers and facilitating their travel, too many are sitting idly by while ship’s crews are unable to get home in a situation that is tantamount to forced labour. Urgent action is needed.