Home International organisation UN groups in crisis mode against key workers as Covid border restrictions return

UN groups in crisis mode against key workers as Covid border restrictions return

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As some countries move to reintroduce border restrictions on transport workers – a repeat of last year’s measures that have contributed to the supply chain crisis – the World Health Organization (WHO ) and the International Labor Organization (ILO) form an emergency action group to protect the free movement of transport workers.

After Omicron was designated as a “variant of concern” by the WHO, 56 countries responded by tightening their entry restrictions – despite agreements reached in September to ensure the free movement and safety of transport workers.

Representatives of the air, road and maritime transport sectors called on states to coordinate measures to allow transport workers to move freely and ensure the fluidity of trade.

Representatives included the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Road Transport Union (IRU) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

“Seafarers have made enormous personal sacrifices over the past two years,” said ICS General Secretary Guy Platten. The charging star. “While admirable, it has put tremendous pressure on them as individuals, their families at home and on the global supply chain.

“As the Omicron variant threatens the southern part of the world, a part of the world that supplies nearly half of the seafaring workforce, it is critical that governments prioritize seafarers for vaccinations and recalls and that they do not close their borders to transport workers.

Different parties to this week’s crisis talks also called for priority access to health care and vaccinations for workers on the WHO-approved list.

“The restrictions and lack of access to the vaccine have certainly contributed to the supply chain problems,” Platten said. “Travel is being lengthened due to the ever-changing testing and quarantine rules imposed by governments, and the tightening or closing of borders – we know of at least 56 countries that have tightened their travel restrictions since the emergence of ‘Omicron. “

The ICS said understaffing issues continued throughout the pandemic as sailors were unable to rejoin the ships.

“We are concerned in the long term that seafarers will not be able to work in our industry due to the hardships they have faced and the treatment they have received from governments that do not recognize their status as key workers. Added Mr. Platten.

Sailors and owners have found ways to bypass travel restrictions and keep global supply chains running, for now. However, Mr Platten stressed, this resulted in a high personal cost for the sailors and sacrifices on their part and was not sustainable.

“We cannot let this become the new normal. We know how to end the pandemic – full global immunity. Coordinated action must be taken by world leaders to exempt transport workers from travel restrictions and prioritize them for vaccination and recalls. We don’t want to see a return to the peak of the crew change crisis, ”added Mr. Platten.