Seafarers ~ the Invisible Workforce

International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Day of the Seafarer was celebrated on 25 June 2020.

Organised by the International Maritime Organization — the United Nations agency with responsibility for the safety, security and sustainability of shipping — June 25 highlights the huge but often overlooked contribution seafarers make to modern society.

Worldwide, there are about 1.5 million seafarers responsible for transporting 90 per cent of all household goods.

Merchant seafarers make a significant and invaluable contribution to Australia’s economy and society by transporting more than 98 per cent of the nation’s imports and exports.

The COVID19 pandemic had been particularly hard for seafarers, with 200,000 currently stuck onboard ships around the world, unable to go home to their families due to border closures and a lack of government efforts to repatriate them.

With very few ships flying the Australian red ensign, the nation’s supply chains have become increasingly precarious, with the overwhelming majority of ships servicing the nation now foreign owned, crewed and flagged.

To mark this, the event’s fourth year, IMO Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu recorded this video message.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres thanked and saluted seafarers everywhere for their work, and urged all countries in the world to honour seafarers by recognizing them as key workers and providing the necessary travel assistance to ensure safe crew changeovers and repatriations (download message from UN Secretary-General here.).

MUA national secretary and International Transport Workers’ Federation president Paddy Crumlin paid tribute to all seafarers, saying that our nation would grind to a halt without the vital supplies they bring.

Seafarers are the invisible workforce responsible for supplying the country with crucial supplies, fuel, and the overwhelming majority of everyday products, as well as exporting our resources and manufactured goods to the world,” Mr Crumlin said.

Put simply, without seafarers, Australia’s economy and society would collapse almost overnight.

The International Day of the Seafarer highlights the need for Australia to restore merchant shipping, with a strategic fleet of Australian-flagged vessels crewed by Australian workers that can ensure our sovereign self-sufficiency and the security for our nation’s fuel and supply capabilities.”