04.05.2020

The Maritime sector needs special support to coordinate crew changes and the repatriation of seafarers

Under the pretext of coronavirus vessels are forced to "rush" from one port to another to urgently evacuate a seafarer due to the refusal of the authorities in violation of all human norms and international standards. Unfortunately such situations seem to be becoming commonplace. A short time ago the Seafarers Union of Russia was engaged in emergency medical evacuation of Russian seafarer who were diagnosed with stroke from Indonesia. Another task proved to be completely different: how to remove from a ship under the Russian flag the deceased  crewmember who died during the voyage.

The seafarer died on April 8 while the vessel was anchored in Campha, Vietnam, with a suspected heart attack. The port authority was provided with all the requested documents necessary for the urgent repatriation of the body to homeland. Previously the crewmembers were checked for Covid-19 infection and tests showed a negative result. Despite this the Vietnamese authorities refused to repatriate the body of decesad seafarer.
Under these circumstances there was nothing else to do but change the port of call so on April 18 the ship set a course for Singapore. As the vessel's call was expected, the Health Authorities of the port confirmed that the removal of the body is possible. However, at the last moment, due to a new outbreak of COVID-19 in the country, the POLA ANISIA  was refused entry.

The shipowner had to continue negotiations with the Ministry of foreign affairs and Consulate.
The Seafarers Union of Russia  contacted the International transport workers fedration, which in turn contacted the ILO and IMO.
" Mary Liew, the President of the Singapore maritime officers union (SMOU), helped us a lot, - says Yuriy Sukhorukov, Chairman of the SUR.

 She appealed to the Singapore authorities and obtained a positive decision, after which the harbour master, having all the official documents in hand, gave permission for the vessel to enter on April 23. The next day the seafarerer's body was transferred to a boat and taken to a funeral home.

In connection with the sudden death of a crew member The Seafarers Union of Russia, the Singapore maritime officers union and the International transport workers federation express their deepest condolences and support to the family and friends. Currently the company is working on documents and preparing an appeal for payment of insurance indemnities.

-This case clearly shows how global cooperation and special support of the Maritime sector is important  today in such a difficult situation in the world in order to coordinate the change of crews and the repatriation of seafarers. This is what Sharan Barrow, Secretary General of the International trade union confideration (ITUC), said at the last meeting of G20 Ministers of labor and employment on COVID-19  "- said Yuriy Sukhorukov, Chairman of the SUR. But so far we see exactly the opposite. Instead of support crewmembers and shipowners face resistance. Therefore, social partnership and full support from international organizations and fraternal Maritime unions in all ports are very important.

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