In a petition created on Charge.org, Singaporean seafarers has urged the Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) to implement legislation that will support their basic human rights as Essential Key Workers.
This means that they want the Singapore authority to create an internationally recognised documentation for Singaporean seafarers and Singapore port limit seafarers that will clearly state that they are “Key Workers” so that they will be given clearance at ports of different countries.
“We are petitioning for the honourable Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore as the legal authority to create and implement internationally recognised documentation for Singaporean seafarers and Singapore port limit seafarers, that clearly states we are ‘Key Workers’ to facilitate and expedite sign on/off applications.
“Especially when Singaporean seafarers have to sign on/off from our ship overseas and need paperwork clearance from the appropriate country/countries,” the petition reads.
The petition, which has garnered over 500 signatures at the time of writing, is created by the Singapore Marine Officers and is titled #NoShippingNoShopping.
The petition says that more than 90 percent of world trade is carried by ship, and about 1.7 million seafarers worldwide work in this industry to ensure that the public get everything that they need for their daily lives.
As such, these seafarers also deserve to go home and the Governments around the globe need to recognise the important role that they play in the society.
It said that the current issue is that these seafarers are stuck in the ocean for months as they are banned for crew change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We seafarers are contract workers and must travel to/from their ship to live and work (generally ranging from 3 to 11 months). Onboard, we work every single day, battling physical exhaustion, mental stress and anxiety far away from home.
“Governments around the world restrict or totally ban crew change as they are understandably concerned about spreading Covid-19 cases, yet these countries rely heavily on seafarers to transport essential cargo to/from their countries. These same governments impose lockdowns and control measures to protect their citizens. But are seafarers not humans too?” it asked.
In fact, the petition noted that some local seafarers have been stuck onboard longer than their normal contract period, and have even missed out funerals of their loved ones as they were unable to sign off.
It added that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has even strongly urged all countries to label seafarers and other marine individuals as “key workers” so they will be allowed to travel between the “ships that constitute their workplace, and their countries of residence, as well as disembark from their ships to seek medical treatment ashore”.
While the petition creator is “grateful” that Singapore has already designated seafarers as Key Workers according to IMO’s Circular Letter, but it has called for the Government to implement legislation for local seafarers to be treated as Key Workers in other countries as well.
Specifically, it asserted that it wants MPA to refer to IMO’s Circular Letter No.4204/Add.35 and the specific resolution as follows:
Resolution MSC.473(ES.2) states, in operative paragraph 1.2:
“1 URGES Member States and relevant national authorities to: …
.2 designate seafarers as “key workers” providing an essential service, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered movement for embarking or disembarking a vessel and consider legal possibilities for accepting internationally recognized documentation carried by seafarers as evidence of their status as “key workers”, and for the purpose of their travel and movement for crew change;”