Importance of Shore Leave for Seafarers: ITF Seafarers’ Trust Survey and Advocacy

Head of the ITF Seafarers' Trust, Katie Higginbottom, discusses the importance of shore leave for seafarers' well-being and the challenges they face in accessing it. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened these issues, raising concerns about the normalization of limited shore leave. The Trust advocates for seafarers' rights and urges support in gathering data to address this critical issue in the maritime industry.
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Head of the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, Katie Higginbottom, delves into the reasoning behind the Trust’s seafarer shore leave survey, emphasizing the constant need to defend decent working conditions in the maritime industry. She highlights the importance of ensuring that seafarers have the opportunity for shore leave, as mandated by Regulation 2.4 of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), for their health and well-being. However, operational requirements and industry trends have made time off in port less routine over the years.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenges faced by seafarers, with repatriation and shore leave becoming nearly impossible. As the industry slowly returns to a semblance of normalcy, the question arises – is shore leave back on the agenda? The absence of shore leave risks becoming the new norm, impacting the overall welfare and quality of life for seafarers.

The ITF Seafarers’ Trust actively supports initiatives to enhance the welfare of seafarers, viewing shore leave as a fundamental right and a catalyst for establishing welfare facilities in ports. Despite the MLC’s requirement for accessible shore-based welfare facilities, the responsibility falls on states to ensure their existence. As seafarers continue to play a crucial role in global trade, advocating for their rights to decent working conditions remains a pressing issue that demands attention and action. Your support in gathering statistics on the current state of shore leave is crucial in advocating for its importance in the industry.

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