The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Governing Body adopted a Resolution concerning maritime labour issues and the COVID-19 pandemic on 8 December 2020, seeking to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on seafarers.
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About 400,000 seafarers are stuck at sea as a result of the measures taken by governments to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The mental and physical distress resulting from this alarming situation puts an enormous risk to the health of seafarers and the safety of navigation.
The draft resolution was put forward by the social partners during the ILO GB.340, as part of wider international campaign, promulgated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the ILO, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the EU, to recognise the current humanitarian crisis faced by seafarers. The ILO resolution was adopted only days after the adoption of the UN General Assembly Resolution on seafarers on 1 December 2020 (A/75/L.37).
The ILO Resolution is a concrete instrument that provides guidance urging member states, among other things, to designate seafarers as “key workers” for the purpose of facilitating crew changes, as well as to ensure that seafarers who are in need of immediate medical care are given access to medical facilities ashore, to emergency medical treatment regardless of nationality and, where necessary, emergency repatriation.
The EU and its member states fully supported the ILO Resolution on the situation of seafarers. As a result of the EU member states’ proposals the Resolution calls on member states to consider taking measures for fishers similar to those for seafarers, as well as referencing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the recent UN Resolution in an effort to reinforce international cooperation and united global approach on this issue. The EU delivered a statement on the occasion of the adoption of the resolution.