A resolution for a global seafarers vaccination program proposed by the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry has been officially adopted by the International Labour Organization
The resolution was agreed at the Fourth Meeting of the Special Tripartite Committee of the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 – Part I and calls for a mapping exercise to identify the number of vaccines required for seafarers ashore at seafarer-supplying countries.
The resolution builds upon the proposal for a global seafarers vaccination programme presented by Cyprus earlier this year to IMO Secretary-General, the International Chamber of Shipping, and the European Union.
It is a concrete step in identifying the magnitude of the vaccination challenge and then proceeding collectively with more decisive action, working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and pharmaceutical companies to secure sufficient vaccines for seafarers.
The approach requires social partners, in consultation with shipowners’ and seafarers’ organisations and in co-ordination with governments and IMO, to undertake a mapping exercise to identify the number of vaccines required for seafarers ashore. In addition, governments and shipowners’ and seafarers’ organisations are invited to formulate a resolution, communicating to all relevant UN bodies the need for a collective approach to secure the number of vaccines identified.
Regarding the adoption of the resolution, Cyprus’ shipping deputy minister, Vassilios Demetriades, commented “The challenge of facilitating crew changes has had a significant impact on the mental and physical well-being of seafarers and the safety of vessels over the past year. Cyprus has always been dedicated to social responsibility and taking a proactive approach to the global challenges faced by shipping. We were determined to find a realistic approach to a global seafarer vaccination programme and are extremely pleased to see our draft resolution accepted by the ILO.
Mr Demetriades added, “I am encouraged by the adoption of this Resolution and my next step is to engage in active conversations with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to define the way forward and put this plan into action. We look forward to working collaboratively to accelerate this resolution, finally delivering the support which our international key workers need and deserve.”
Cyprus was one of the first countries worldwide that recognised seafarers as key workers and introduced all necessary measures to facilitate crew changes amid the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures have resulted in more than 1,200 seafarers being repatriated through Cyprus’ ports and airports since May 2020.
The issue of Covid-19 and seafarers was highlighted in the case of the Suezmax tanker Fairway, which was quarantined off Le Havre.