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ILO, MWUN seek incentives for seafarers over Covid-19

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As the world today marks the International Day of the Seafarers, the Maritime Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MWUN), has appealed that palliatives be given to seafarers to cushion their sufferings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Already, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had reported that about 200,000 seafarers were trapped on board ships around the world because of measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus, and that the situation was getting worse by the day.

The global agency said seafarers were on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods such as food, medicines and medical supplies. However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for the maritime workers, including uncertainties and difficulties about port access, re-supply, crew changeovers and repatriation.

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As part of measures to prevent the spread of the virus at the nation’s ports, MWUN, in conjunction with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), yesterday launched a sensitisation programme and distributed palliatives as well as personal protective equipment, including hand sanitisers, hand gloves, face masks and infrared thermometers, to seafarers in all the ports across the country.

President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, said the programme was made possible through collaboration with ITF, who provided the counterpart grant.

Adeyanju said: “Incentives should be given to seafarer who have left their families for about three to six months. All the seafarers globally are floating prisoners, who have been on the waters for months. We are telling the regulatory agencies to talk to all employers of seafarers that palliatives should be given to them.”

The MWUN boss flayed employers who are hiding under the pretext of COVID-19 to layoff workers, saying the union would resist every such action and would consider shutting the ports if it persisted.

For this year’s celebration, the Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, called on member states to recognise seafarers as key workers and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.

In his message themed “Seafarers are Key Workers”, Lim highlighted the unique and essential work of seafarers.

“Just like other key workers, seafarers are on the frontline in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during the pandemic, but at all times.”

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