The vaccination of seafarers has finally begun in several Italian ports. Hundreds of people from various nationalities have been queuing up at the hubs set up by the Local Health Departments within the port areas. This is precisely what the ILO, the United Nations Labour Organisation, had called for in April 2021 recognising the importance and irreplaceability of maritime labour and recommending the states to adopt a common approach for vaccinating seafarers directly in ports of call and with no limits regarding their nationality.
The main feature of maritime labour is that, by definition, it takes place far from the place of residence and often far from the country of origin; it would not make sense, therefore, to wait for seafarers to finish their period of embarkation and return home to be vaccinated, just as it would not make sense to vaccinate only part of the crew, i.e. nationals, and leave the others without vaccination coverage. Protecting maritime labour is, after all, a priority for every State, as the very security of the nation depends on its territorial continuity. It is no coincidence that even during the toughest periods of the Covid emergency, maritime transport did not come to a complete standstill. A considerable number of ships, amidst a thousand inconveniences, had to travel in order not to jeopardise the world’s logistics chain, which is also crucial in tackling the virus.
A full commitment of the shipowning cluster, of which Assarmatori was one of the most active parts, aside the support of national and international trade unions to obtain from the Government the indispensable recognition of seafarers as key workers, has been centripetal to achieve the goal. Assarmatori and the other Trade Associations have succeeded in strongly representing to the various decision-makers the relevance of activating a specific action plan for the seafarers’ category, encountering the willingness of the Commission for the Covid-19 emergency which has issued, on the indication of the Ministry of Health, the provision by which national and non-national seafarers are admitted to vaccination with priority.