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Transport heads want solutions to ‘resolve’ supply chain crisis

Open letter sent to World Health Organization, International Labor Organization

(Photos by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines/Flickr and Lukasz Zawadzski/IRU)

The world’s largest transport organizations are urging action on the supply chain crisis in an open letter to the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization. Their message: Governments around the world are failing transport workers and they want the WHO and ILO to discuss the humanitarian crisis at the United Nations General Assembly.

The open letter was signed by the International Road Transport Union, the International Air Transport Association, the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers’ Federation. These groups represent 65 million global transport workers, approximately 3.5 million road freight and airport companies, and more than 80% of the world’s merchant shipping fleet. More than $20 trillion of the world’s annual trade is represented by these organizations. 

In the letter, the organizations are asking the heads of government to take “swift action” lifting fragmented travel rules and getting vaccinations into the  arms of the manufacturing and logistics workforce. The letter also urges the creation of a globally recognized vaccination certificate so workers can cross international borders.

Part of the letter states: “At the peak of the crew change crisis, 400,000 seafarers were unable to leave their ships, with some seafarers working for as long as 18 months over their initial contracts. Flights have been restricted and aviation workers have faced the inconsistency of border, travel, restrictions and vaccine restrictions/requirements. Additional and systemic stopping at road borders has meant truck drivers have been forced to wait, sometimes weeks, before being able to complete their journeys and return home. It is of great concern that we are also seeing shortages of workers and expect more to leave our industries as a result of the poor treatment they have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat.”

According to the Neptune Declaration, just 22% of seafarers from developing economies are vaccinated.

The letter was direct in pinpointing the reason that action is now needed.


“Transport workers keep the world running and are vital for the free movement of products, including vaccines and PPE, but have been continually failed by governments and taken for granted by their officials. … 

“In view of the vital role that transport workers have played during the pandemic and continue to play during the ongoing supply chain crisis, we request, as a matter of urgency, a meeting with WHO and the ILO at the highest level to identify solutions before global transport systems collapse. We also ask that WHO and the ILO raise this at the U.N. General Assembly and call on heads of government to take meaningful and swift action to resolve this crisis now.”

The groups did meet with the International Labor Organization behind closed doors last Friday to discuss the challenges their membership is facing. The groups echoed their frustration, citing difficulties to gain political support within the UN General Assembly.

Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said the group hoped common sense would prevail. “But despite all the good work going behind the scenes, the data available and expertise we have political science influencing decisions, not the real science,” he noted.

Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, told American Shipper there is no reason or excuse for this uncoordinated approach. “Timing is everything and we hope with [Thursday] being [World] Maritime Day, our urgent call to put in place international solutions which already exist can be heard,” he said.

Umberto de Pretto, secretary general of the International Road Transport Union, said the time is now for action. “What is required is a political decision,” he said. “Do you want an economic recovery or not? If you do, you want political leadership to address this crisis.”

One Comment

  1. Lion KingZ

    The vaccine, a dangerous one at that given evidence from Israel on post vaccination hospitalization from health complications triggered by the vaccines.
    Taking this vaccine will not alleviate the problem. Getting out of the way will alleviate the problem.
    They will not do that of course.
    As a former LTL driver, I have retired and urge any colleagues I speak with to do the same. Many of them when informed of the facts agree and have decided to do the same for their own personal reasons.
    Time to grow a garden and move out to the countryside and be at peace.
    No more stress.
    No more putting up with political manipulation to control the world’s population.
    They created this mess starting with playing with things in labs where science should not have gone in the first place and they still will accept zero responsibility for it.
    So, myself and so many others that have worked hard for a lifetime behind the wheel, have decided now is the best time to leave it all behind and let the chips fall where they may.
    Enough is enough and we drivers have had enough.

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Lori Ann LaRocco

Lori Ann LaRocco is senior editor of guests for CNBC business news. She coordinates high profile interviews and special multi-million dollar on-location productions for all shows on the network. Her specialty is in politics, working with titans of industry. LaRocco is the author of: “Trade War: Containers Don’t Lie, Navigating the Bluster” (Marine Money Inc., 2019) “Dynasties of the Sea: The Untold Stories of the Postwar Shipping Pioneers” (Marine Money Inc., 2018), “Opportunity Knocking” (Agate Publishing, 2014), “Dynasties of the Sea: The Ships and Entrepreneurs Who Ushered in the Era of Free Trade” (Marine Money, 2012), and “Thriving in the New Economy: Lessons from Today’s Top Business Minds” (Wiley, 2010).