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Crew change crunch sees ITF okay contract extensions

Crew change crunch sees ITF okay contract extensions
Sam Chambers March 18th, 2020

Crews keen to either get home or start work are facing unprecedented delays with the trade union, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), giving the effective green light for shipmanagers and owners to extend time onboard through to April 16.

In a letter seen by Splash that was sent yesterday to all its affiliates penned by ITF’s maritime coordinator, Jacqueline Smith, the trade union states: “In order to mitigate problems surrounding the replacement of crew, the ITF has decided that during the period from 17 March 2020 to 16 April 2020, it will not challenge extensions of contracts of up to one month, even when these push the seafarers service periods past the maximum allowable by relevant ITF approved CBA [or MLC], provided individual seamers consent to such extensions.”

The news comes as some shipping lines have already made public their intention to keep staff at sea through to next month given the increasingly few ports where crew change is now possible thanks to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Maersk, for instance, announced yesterday that all crew changes for all its boxships will be suspended for four weeks until April 14.

“The decision is based on the need to keep our crew safe while maintaining operations as normal as possible,” the Danish shipping giant stated yesterday.