Global transport chiefs have called on world leaders to secure the world’s supply chains by ensuring the free movement of transport workers and ending travel bans and other restrictions imposed since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, Sept. 29, a group including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Road Transport Union (IRU), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) sent a joint open letter to the world’s heads of governments attending the United Nations General Assembly, making “an urgent plea” to them “to remove restrictions hampering the free movement of transport workers, and guarantee and facilitate their free and safe movement.”

The group represents 65 million transport workers globally.

In the letter, they said that the maritime, road and aviation industries had an enormously detrimental impact on their wellbeing and safety since the start of the pandemic. Though they have called loudly on governments to ensure the free movement of the transport system, governments have continually failed.

“Our calls have been consistent and clear: freedom of movement for transport workers, for governments to use protocols that have been endorsed by international bodies for each sector and to prioritize transport workers for vaccinations as called for in the World Health Organization’s SAGE Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines in the Context of Limited Supply,” they wrote.

“Heads of government have failed to listen, to end the blame-shifting within and between governments and take the decisive and coordinated action needed to resolve this crisis,” they said.

That is why the group explained; they are again calling on governments to take action, warning that otherwise, the global supply chain would be under greater threat.

The maritime, road, and aviation industries together account for more than $20 trillion of world trade annually, over 3.5 million road freight and airline companies, and more than 80% of the world merchant shipping fleet.

“Seafarers, aircrew, and drivers must be able to continue to do their jobs, and cross borders, to keep supply chains moving,” they said in the letter, asking the governments’ leaders to urgently take the leadership that is required to bring an end to the fragmented travel rules and restrictions.

They also urged the governments to work together to create globally harmonized, digital, mutually recognized vaccination certificates and processes for demonstrating health credentials, which are paramount to ensure transport workers can cross international borders.

Hailing the vital role of transport workers during the pandemic and the ongoing supply chain, they also requested the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization to “identify solutions before global transport systems collapse.”

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