Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has backed a cross-party parliamentary motion calling for the safe return of UK merchant navy sailors stranded by global COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The motion recognises that an estimated 2000 mariners have been trapped on board their ships for an extended period of time and the significant effect this will have on their physical and mental health.
Commenting, Mr Carmichael said:
“The challenges of COVID-19 are concerning enough without having family members stranded offshore. Repatriation of UK citizens has been a significant challenge during this crisis and the Government should not forget about seafarers as part of this. Ministers must act to ensure the safe return of merchant navy staff to their families and loved ones.”
“The merchant navy has a longstanding connection to the Northern Isles. They play a vital role in our economy, still more so during the current crisis. Supply lines are more important than ever. The Government should sign up to the International Maritime Organisation’s plan to ensure crew changeovers can resume. Delaying this will only worsen the situation faced by seafarers who face physical and mental exhaustion during this time.
“Working conditions for merchant navy workers cannot be ignored in this crisis. We know there has been a temptation on the part of some maritime employers in the past to take any opportunity to undermine pay and conditions. We need a strong stance from the government against this.”