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London-Greek owners slam failure to recognise seafarers’ key role

Photo: Marcus Hand seafarers.jpg
London-based Greek shipowners have slammed governments and regulators for failing to recognise the key role seafarers and shipping staff play in ensuring global trade continues in the tumultuous circumstances now being experienced.

The past year has been a tumultuous one for the unsung heroes of the maritime industry, the seafarers and shore staff looking after them, as they have continued doing their job invisibly and selflessly, despite, says Haralambos J Fafalios, chairman of the Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee (GSCC)  “despite the fact neither governments or regulators have done enough to recognise the importance of seafarers”.

“Over the last 12 months the world has faced the greatest pandemic in over 100 years”, and this “has resulted in a huge loss of life and dislocated the normality of our everyday existence,” said Fafalios in his preface to the GSCC’s 2020 / 2021 annual report.

Fafalios said that during this period, doctors, nurses, scientists have valiantly fought to aid the suffering and to create a myriad of vaccines that have begun to overcome this appalling event. At the same time seafarers and shore staff have ensured world trade is not disrupted.

He said neither governments nor regulators consider seafarers as essential or key workers affording them priority inoculation or allowed them to easily embark or disembark from vessels around the world. “Equally disappointing is the prohibition of seafarers by some nations to have shore access for health and medical reasons,” said Fafalios.

“Too few countries or ports allow a safe haven for seafarers to sign on or off ships and there is little stability in where and when crews can change hoping that in return governments will show flexibility in the amount of time crews will remain aboard vessels.”