Picture: I Dewa Nyoman Budiasa, KPI General Secretary
The Indonesian Seafarers Union – Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia (KPI) – is calling on the Indonesian government as well as governments around the world to ease restrictions on seafarers signing on and off vessels during the Covid-19 pandemic and to recognize their status as key workers.
There are currently an estimated 200,000 seafarers stranded on vessels around the world according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). Access to travel for joining and repatriation of these key workers is affecting seafarers’ health and safety as well as movement of needed goods to help countries to cope with the global crisis.
Indonesian seafarers are among those who have worked months beyond their contract dates due to travel restrictions in what is being recognized as a humanitarian crisis for seafarers worldwide. KPI is calling for on Indonesia’s government to follow the lead of Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and other nations by establishing emergency visa and movement procedures for seafarers related to crew changes and exempt them from quarantine regulations.
“With so many Indonesians trapped on cargo vessels around the world, the Indonesian government should follow the direction of other nations to protect these key workers in our society,” stated I Dewa Nyoman Budiasa, KPI’s General Secretary. “Unrestricted crew changes are the only acceptable solution. To get there, we need new procedures for entry visas to allow crew changes for seafarers of all nationalities. Indonesia needs to engage with stakeholders to enact these emergency measures and inform relevant national authorities.”
On June 12, 2020, UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement on the safety crisis facing seafarers and called on all countries to designate seafarers as “key workers” and ensure that crew changes can take place. Guterres cited protocols established by the ILO, the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and other stakeholders related to crew change during the ongoing pandemic. KPI is an affiliate of the ITF.
KPI further criticized the Ministry of Manpower for issuing Ministerial Decision 151 which called for a blanket stoppage on placement of Indonesian workers abroad. “The decision should to be re-evaluated as it was not well coordinated with other ministries and does not recognize the position of seafarers as key workers,” added Budiasa. “Seafarers should of course be exempt from the travel and work restrictions. This is in line with the guidelines issued by every single international body which Indonesia is a member of including IMO, ILO, and the UN.”
“Our country cannot have it both ways. We cannot expect all Indonesian seafarers to come home without allowing others to take their place on vessels both here and abroad. This decision not only hurts seafarers but also harms the economy in general and the flow of trade needed to help Indonesia during this crisis,” stated Budiasa.
The Indonesian Seafarers Union (KPI), ITF, and Indonesia’s National Coordinating Committee of Indonesian Transport Unions are calling on the Indonesian government and other governments around the world to formally designate seafarers as “key workers” and an establishment and implementation of emergency crew change procedures by July 1, 2020.