By Capt. Edgardo Flores
The recent declaration of ITF asking Seafarers to stop working is an ill advice and very irresponsible statement. It is a form of MUTINY if indeed seafarers will do it. ITF together with IMO and ILO should be the one to spearhead in forcing and asking signatory countries to MLC who do not allow crew changes to ease the travel restrictions instead of calling seafarers to stop working.
Shipowners are more than willing to sign-off seafarers who completed their contract considering that prolong stay onbard is detrimental to SOLAS and environmental protection. What hampers the crew change are countries that do not allow the seafarers to embark and disembark. Why instigate seafarers to stop working? Why go against the shipowners who has no control of the situation and at the mercy of every countries regulations?
One hindrance to Filipino seafarers are the local local regulations here in the Philippines. So many seafarers are stuck in their provinces because air and sea transport are still not easily available due to government strict travel restrictions which is understandable.
Hong Kong and Singapore are considered Hubs of asian seatrade and suppose to be the center of crew change but making it hard and most of the time does not allow seafarers to embark and disembark. I salute the IATF and government agencies for at least trying their best to allow crew change in selected seaports with caution.
I can not really imagine why ITF is asking seafarers to stop working. With such move ITF will put shipowners down to their knees and will only create chaos to unpredictable situation that the world will be facing not to mention the future of every seafarers. Instead of advising and pacifying the now very tired seafarers for sobriety and resiliency, ITF is adding more fuel to the fire.
If crew will stop working, it is the industry who will suffer most not the countries who does not allow crew change. Why not asked countries who does not allow crew change to consider seafarers to go home, especially those members and signatory to MLC.
To ITF please do not add more salt to the injury.
To my KABARO, shipowners and Manning Agencies are trying their best to bring you home. With SOBRIETY and RESILIENCY we can weather this storm. GOD BLESS US ALL.