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It’s time for the industry to stand up and be counted in support of our seafarers

It’s time for the industry to stand up and be counted in support of our seafarers
January 11, 2022

Frank Coles is frustrated at the limited take-up to date of a petition to enable proper treatment of seafarers during the pandemic. It does not reflect well on our industry as a whole, he argues.

Several months ago we started a petition to get seafarers treated as essential workers with an enforceable international trade protocol. Global governments would collaborate and provide a recognised methodology to enable proper treatment of seafarers in travel, etc. This petition was promoted on Splash, on LinkedIn and other media.

I also wrote to multiple politicians and officials in the US and UK. I had two phone calls from people in DC, and one letter from the office of the prime minister in the UK. Both were aware of the problem, but bemoaned the difficulty of getting countries to work together.

Over the past 18 months countless people have spoken of the importance of seafarers, of the welfare organisations and we had the Day of the Seafarer, but nothing has really changed.

It seems the industry is apathetic to really doing something. I am not talking about welfare, and I am not talking about endless voices of support, I am talking about a recognised level of support. Not 800 companies on the Neptune Declaration but signatures on a petition.

This is an industry of 1.7m seafarers, and countless others who work within it. However, to date the petition has 14,123 signatures. Over 270,000 people have viewed the petition and it has been shared 7,000 times. These are paltry figures for the essential workers of the global supply chain. Maybe the petition is poorly written, but the message is clear, seafaring and seafarers are out of sight and out of mind to the world.

Some 6m people signed a petition to have a truck driver’s sentence reduced after he killed people in an accident in Colorado. There are many others like this on Yet an industry cannot support its workers? I asked a CEO of a global shipmanger if he had signed, he said yes, but he had told his team it was up to them if they wanted to support it. With attitudes like that is it any wonder this industry is blind to the rest of the world.

The petition may not get things changed, but its performance sends a signal, good or bad, on whether maritime workers are relevant. It’s small wonder we don’t get attention for seafarers when we can’t support a petition to help them.

Please sign, please share, please urge your staff, employees, friends to show support for the seafarers and grow the signatures to a level the seafarers deserve and the politicians will pay attention to. Here’s the link: