A new threat to global trade, Exhausted crews want off cargo ships now
Global trade is facing another economic crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as seafarers stranded for months due to port closures could refuse to keep working. Many cargo ship crew extended their contracts by several months to continue to supplies of food, fuel, and medicine flowing around the world during the pandemic. However, the months at sea without any breaks is starting to wear down on crews. Fatigue and mental illness are beginning to affect safety and demeanor, resulting in many crews begging to exit ships.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation, which represents roughly half of the world’s seafarers, stated that emergency extensions to contracts granted due to COVID-19 will expire on Tuesday, and the organization can now attempt to help the crew exercise legal rights to return home. The move could cause the global trade industry that is already suffering, to grind to a halt. Roughly 80% of world goods trade by volume is transported on ships, and the pandemic has thrown the shipping industry in chaos. The pandemic has made it very difficult to swap crews, as people departing and entering the ship could lead to a health disaster.