- Fidelity International, calls on companies and governments to urgently address an unfolding crisis in global supply chains.
- As hundreds of thousands of ship workers remain stranded at sea because of the pandemic.
- The investment house reaches 30 companies, including shipowners, airlines and groups that charter ships, to raise concerns about the conditions facing seafarers.
- Fidelity says putting the health and safety of workers at risk and piling pressure on global supply chains.
Fidelity warns of supply chain risks due to stranded seafarers, reports Financial Times.
World trade relies on shipping
Jenn-Hui Tan, global head of stewardship and sustainable investing at Fidelity, said an estimated 90 per cent of world trade relies on shipping, providing a vital service for businesses and consumers.
He said seafarers should be classified as essential workers and allowed to disembark.
“Seafarers provide an essential service. Our food, our energy, so much of our trade we wouldn’t have without seafarers,” he said.
The plight of seafarers
- Some seafarers have refused to work after their contacts expired in order to be repatriated.
- Under current regulations, the maximum continuous period a seafarer should serve on board a vessel without leave is 11 months.
- Fidelity estimates that of the 1.2m seafarers on merchant ships roughly half come from China, Russia and India.
For many seafarers, “their economic situations are poor and they don’t have that leverage to be able to call attention to their plight,” said Mr Tan.
A massive commercial impact
Bill Dobie, chief executive of Sedna Systems, which produces software of the shipping industry, warned there could be a “massive commercial impact” if ship workers cannot be repatriated in a timely and safe manner.
Mr Tan said the solution required a “multilateral approach” by governments, shipowners, charter companies and airlines.
Logistic challenge ahead
He said there was a big logistical challenge to repatriate seafarers because of the reduction in international flights in response to the pandemic.
There was also an economic cost, as ships altered routes in order to allow workers to leave.
“We need to permit crew changes, for the health and safety of workers and for the safety of the cargo. That needs to happen, but in a way that doesn’t affect the health of other people,” he said.
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Source: Financial Times