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Crew change fund from Singapore receives additional financial support

Crew change fund   A crew change fund from Singapore received a significant financial boost as the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) have come together to contribute $500,000 to the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR), in order to reward countries that adopt ideal crew change practices. The fund brings together international stakeholders from around the world, unions, and governing bodies in order to ensure that crew changes are conducted safely. The fund now stands at $1.2 million, following an initial $1 million when the SG-STAR Fund was established in August 2020 by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), Singapore Maritime Officers’ Union (SMOU) and Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS). The Singapore fund will then be used to provide funds to be used in countries of seafarers’ origin. The crew change crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic does not appear to be abating six months on, with an estimated 300,000 seafarers still trapped out at sea. Some of them have been out at sea for longer than 11 months, which is the maximum length of time allowed under the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). In addition, another 300,000 are still awaiting signing on to their vessels, and are unable to earn any income. Commenting on the SG-STAR Fund, ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton said, “For the world’s seafarers, they need practical solutions now, not tomorrow, to end this humanitarian crisis and get seafarers to and from ships in a safe manner. This joint initiative, working with tripartite partners to promote practical solutions to the crew change crisis, will be key to breaking the current deadlock.   “We need to see progress especially on ways seafarers can show authorities and employers their negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results from verified medical institutions, so that quarantine times can be reduced on board and while waiting to join vessels.” Mirroring his comments, International Labour Organisation (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder said, “The ILO warmly welcomes the contributions from the ITF, IMEC and ICS to the SG-STAR Fund which not only provides much-needed resources but confirms the tripartite and truly global reach of the initiative. This is exactly the type of response that we need to the dramatic and worldwide problems of crew changes.” In addition to signing off on the letter of intent for the SG-STAR Fund, a taskforce has been set up to come up with ways to conduct crew changes safely. Its members include representatives from MPA, SMOU and SOS, and is led by SSA Council Member and Chair of SSA Services Committee Nitin Mathur.   The taskforce will look to provide training sessions for crews to familiarise them with crew change guidelines and procedures, as well as to work on the certification of quarantine facilities and COVID-19 testing. By doing so, it aims to ensure that the journey from nations of origin of crew members to the country where crew change takes place is as safe as possible. Source: Offshore Energy    

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