Coronavirus - Shipping & Ports update

Circular No: NP/310/20




Our ref: S6/9


21st December 2020


Dear Colleagues


Coronavirus update – Shipping and Ports


I am writing to update you on the further actions your Union is taking following the restrictions placed on ferry and aviation movements from the UK by Governments in Europe and around the world.


Over forty governments have now imposed bans on arrivals from the  UK by sea and air due to the discovery of a more infectious strain of the Coronavirus. If left in place for any length of time, these restrictions have the potential to further damage maritime jobs and services, and to further accelerate the crew change crisis.


The French Government has closed its border to all sailings of accompanied freight and passengers from UK ports. Unaccompanied freight can still move between UK and the Continent but any interruption causes major ripple effects in the supply chain, immediately amongst road hauliers and in the shorter term amongst members in the Port of Dover, and on P&O and DFDS ferries to Calais and Dunkerque.


Governments across Europe and the world have banned flights arriving from the UK. This will increase the number of exploited foreign seafarers in UK waters being required to work beyond the end of their contracts. Throughout the pandemic, your Union has consistently stated to the Government, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the ITF that the crew change crisis is an unacceptable threat to maritime safety and seafarers’ rights. This has the potential to worsen this aspect of the crisis.


We are in dialogue with the Department for Transport, our sister union Nautilus and employers over these recent developments and any immediate, practical impacts on our members and international seafarers working from UK ports.  


The Government has also updated its guidance for transport operators in England, including the ferries sector, following the introduction of Tier 4 restrictions in London and the South East at the weekend.


I would be grateful if you would share this update with maritime members in your branch or region and I will keep you informed of further developments.


Yours sincerely


Mick Cash

General Secretary