Pandemic trade restrictions threaten shipping employees' jobs

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Unions representing shipping workers are issuing a dire warning of the global collapse of shipping due to shortages and COVID-19 restrictionGetty Images

In a joint statement, several shipping unions representing workers from around the world have warned of a "global transport systems collapse" as a result of labor shortages and pandemic-related restrictions on trade — as already unprecedented delays are set to worsen as the busy holiday season approaches.

Following the outbreak, the World Road Transportation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, the International Chamber of Shipping, and the International Transport Workers' Federation issued an open letter saying that their members had been "failed by governments and taken for granted by their officials."

In the absence of action on critical issues, "historic disruptions, worldwide delays, and shortages of vital products," according to the coalition of unions, who also predicted that "the delays are likely to intensify ahead of Christmas and extend into 2022.

For their contracts, some seafarers worked for as long as 18 months over their original contracts because of "fragmented travel regulations and limitations," according to the organization.

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Container ships wait to dock and unload near Long Beach and Los Angeles, California.Getty Images

It went on to say that "flights have been limited, and aviation employees have been confronted with the inconsistency of border and travel limitations, as well as vaccination limits and requirements."

Drivers have been forced to wait for days or even weeks before being allowed to finish their trips and return home as a result of increased and systematic halting at road boundaries.

The organization, whose combined businesses account for more than $20 trillion in yearly global commerce, called on countries and the United Nations to "remove limitations impeding the free movement of transport workers, as well as ensure and facilitate their free and safe travel."

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Also called for was for the World Health Organization to collaborate with countries to develop a "globally standardized, digital" vaccination certificate that would allow employees to travel freely across international boundaries.

A year and a half of pressure, which has mostly impacted marine and road transport employees but has also had an effect on aircrews, is now beginning to show signs of wear. According to the letter, "their continuing maltreatment is putting pressure on an already-instable global supply chain."

"It is very concerning that we are also experiencing labor shortages and anticipate even more employees leaving our businesses as a consequence of the terrible treatment they have received throughout the epidemic, placing the supply chain at even greater risk."

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The union called on governments and the United Nations to “remove restrictions hampering the free movement of transport workers.”Getty Images

The worldwide shipping sector has been thrown into disarray by the COVID-19 epidemic, as demand for delivered products has increased as consumers shun brick-and-mortar stores to escape the disease.

As a result of border restrictions and epidemics at several facilities, product movement has been hindered, creating shortages that are impacting business profits in the United States and other parts of the world.

They sought a meeting with the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization in their open letter published on Wednesday.

A meeting at the highest level with the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization (ILO) is requested as a matter of urgency to identify solutions before global transportation systems collapse, according to the union's letter to the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.

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