DRecently released recommendations from a joint UN-industry sector action group include laying off transport workers, including seafarers, as key workers and ensuring the needs and challenges of these workers are voiced during a pandemic.
The Joint Action Group was formed in December 2021 to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on transport workers worldwide and the global supply chain. The group included the IMO, the International Labor Organization (ILO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). air and road companies.
The recommendations of the Joint Action Group to Review the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Transport Workers Worldwide and the Global Supply Chain (JAG-TSC) aim to minimize negative impacts on transport workers, their families and global trade and supply chains, at the same time ensures that public health needs are fully met and local communities protected.
IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim signed the recommendation document on January 27, 2022 along with the heads of the other UN entities involved.
The 23 recommendations include:
- Establishment of a rapid response group for immediate activation in the event of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) declared by the WHO.
- Engage in effective social dialogue with global, regional and national transport employers and workers and their organizations, recognizing that social dialogue is an effective means of improving the living and working conditions of mobile and cross-border transport workers and facilitating transport across international borders is gone.
- The United Nations system should convene a tripartite, international and inter-ministerial meeting to discuss transport, health and the common concerns and interests of the transport sector to identify the different approaches that can be taken to protect and respect the rights of workers and employers during PHEICs are required.
Among the specific recommendations for IMO, ILO and ICAO:
- Contribution to WHO guidance on considering the rights, needs and challenges of transport workers and employers during PHEICs.
- Expressing and mainstreaming the needs and challenges of workers and industry by engaging in the development of a future WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, and possible changes to the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) involve with the modalities of engagement for relevant interest groups.
Among the specific recommendations for governments:
- Recognize the key roles that transport workers play during PHEICs, particularly mobile and cross-border transport workers who serve to maintain essential supply chains, and if they have not already done so, designate them as “key workers.”
The recommendations reflect calls by the IMO, made during the COVID-19 pandemic, to appoint seafarers as key workers and joint calls for cooperation on seafarer issues.
In addition, the IMO Facilitation Committee has adopted amendments to the Facilitation Convention (effective 1 January 2024) to incorporate provisions derived from lessons learned during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contracting Governments and their relevant public authorities are required to allow ships and ports to remain fully operational during a PHEIC in order to maintain the full functioning of global supply chains as much as possible. Public authorities are also required to designate dock workers and ship crews as key workers (or equivalent) whenever they are on their territory, regardless of their nationality or the flag of their ship.
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